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January 19, 2021

Partnership Spotlight: South Tulsa Baptist Church

Partnership Spotlight: South Tulsa Baptist Church

Every year, hundreds of volunteers across the Tulsa area dedicate time out of their week to support students as they work hard to become the next generation of leaders and thinkers. Thanks to continued support from our volunteers, new community partnerships are forming this year– helping students stay on track during distance learning with our new virtual tutoring platform Reading Partners Connects.

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Eric Costanzo

Two of those volunteers are Eric Costanzo, lead pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church in Jenks, and Cindy Seay, his administrative assistant. Eric and Cindy first got involved with Reading Partners as tutors at Anderson Elementary during the 2014-15 school year, where they both participated in our traditional program.

When Eric and Cindy heard that Reading Partners was expanding its volunteer tutoring services to a new district, Jenks Public Schools for the 2020-21 school year, they saw it as the perfect opportunity to expand the Jenks CarePoint mission and serve the students enrolled in Reading Partners at Jenks East Elementary.

Our mission at Jenks CarePoint is to serve the students and families of Jenks Public Schools and the community by providing resources and programs to meet physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs as we share the love and hope that is found in Christ.

With the help of the community school coordinator at Jenks East, Reading Partners was introduced to South Tulsa Baptist Church. During an initial meeting, one of the ideas that came up was to offer a virtual information session for the church’s leadership staff. This helped their team to learn about Reading Partners and opportunities for their church to continue their commitment to supporting students and families at Jenks East. The virtual information session was a hit, raising the bar for how we would continue to engage new partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Helping those who are struggling in our community, as well as the immigrants and refugees who reside in this area, is a big part of the mission of South Tulsa Baptist Church,” Cindy said.

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A first grader at Jenks East Elementary, taken on Disney Day

We are so thankful for Eric and Cindy who then invited us to set up a table and recruit new volunteers one Sunday morning in November while providing safe protocols and social distancing during the recruitment process.

“The past several months have been difficult for all students, and I can only imagine that it has been extra hard for those students who are behind in their reading skills,” Cindy said. Empowering students to become strong readers is more important now than ever. The help tutors can offer right now through Reading Partners Connects is critical.”

January is National Mentor Month, which means it’s the perfect time to join the mentoring movement and become a reading partner. If you would like to support Reading Partners with additional recruitment efforts or start tutoring a student, please contact Haley Biram, community engagement manager of recruitment, at haley.biram@readingpartners.org or (918) 949-1979.

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