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April 22, 2024

Reading Partners Tulsa announces Sixth Annual Valued Volunteer Award Winners

At Reading Partners, we champion the idea that every child deserves the chance to become a confident reader and a lifelong learner. With the unwavering commitment of our volunteers and the steadfast support of our community, we’ve been able to deliver personalized attention to each of the more than 11,000 students who’ve joined our program since we arrived in Tulsa in 2013.

Annually, we celebrate the exceptional contributions of our community volunteers, alongside our esteemed community and school partners, who have wholeheartedly embraced the mission of fostering literacy. Join us in honoring the remarkable winners of the 2024 Valued Volunteer Awards.

Sixth Annual Valued Volunteer Award Winners

Reading Matters

Vanessa Dinh-Nguyen Lawler

It’s time to celebrate the incredible work of Vanessa Dinh-Nguyen Lawler, who embodies the spirit of our mission here at Reading Partners with her dedication to helping children become lifelong readers. Vanessa began her journey with Reading Partners in 2016 at Sequoyah Elementary and now tutors at Grove Elementary. Since that time, Vanessa has provided more than 188 tutoring sessions. 

Whether working with her student, Gio, or any other student at Grove Elementary, Vanessa’s patience, reliability, and passion for learning shine through. According to her program coordinator, Vanessa takes the time to ensure that each lesson is understood, going above and beyond to support her students. Vanessa’s commitment to the Reading Partners program, shown by her years of service, along with her willingness to offer extra sessions, makes her the deserving winner of the Reading Matters award.

Sixth Annual Valued Volunteer Award WinnersTogether We Are Better

Ty’Shaun Jackson

Let’s celebrate Ty’Shaun’s amazing dedication and hard work as a Reading Partner at Hamilton Elementary! Ty’Shaun discovered Reading Partners through Tulsa MET High School and has been an invaluable asset to the program since getting started this year. 

According to his program coordinator, Ty’Shaun is a terrific tutor who is engaged and focused throughout every session he does with his student. 

Not only does Ty’Shaun show up consistently for his student, but he also never hesitates to work with other students who need a make-up session. His passion for providing one-on-one literacy intervention is truly remarkable as he has completed over 32 tutoring sessions this year.

Thank you, Ty’Shaun, for your unwavering dedication to your students and the program. Your hard work and caring spirit truly make a difference in the lives of those with whom you work. You are a shining example of how Together We Are Better!

Sixth Annual Valued Volunteer Award WinnersLaughter Keeps Us Going

Philip Skoch

Philip is a true ray of sunshine at MacArthur Elementary’s reading center, bringing nothing but laughter and joy to the students, his program coordinator, and everyone he meets at the reading center. Philip is consistent in showing up regularly for his student, Elijah, and has been intentional about building a positive learning experience throughout more than 32 tutoring sessions this year. Philip’s program coordinator loves watching the pair interact because Elijah always has the biggest smile while learning and accomplishing his reading goals. 

In addition to supporting his reading partner, Philip is also a big help when it comes to encouraging new tutors and making them feel comfortable in the reading center. He is always open to giving feedback and tips to new tutors, which helps calm their nerves. 

We are so grateful for Philip and the joy he brings to our reading center. Philip, thank you for showing us what it means when we say Laughter Keeps Us Going.

Sixth Annual Valued Volunteer Award WinnersBig Challenges Are Our Thing

Merilyn Rohling

Meet Merilyn Rohling, winner of the Big Challenges Are Our Thing Award, whose dedication shines through in every tutoring session at Peters Elementary. Merilyn joined Reading Partners in 2018 and since then has provided more than 225 tutoring sessions. This year, she tutors three sessions every Monday and Wednesday, and without fail, Merilyn is here for her students, creating an unbreakable bond with each one. In the face of significant challenges, she works tirelessly, customizing her approach to meet their reading needs with unwavering positivity. No gain is too small for Merilyn to celebrate, uplifting her students with praise at every step.

Beyond academics, Merilyn is a compassionate listener, offering comfort and support for emotional needs. She’s a vigilant advocate, always quick to communicate any concerns to ensure her students get the best support possible. With her genuine desire to help, Merilyn embodies a spirit of community and determination. Despite any obstacles, she sets a high bar of expectation, inspiring her students to reach their full potential. Here’s to Merilyn Rohling, a beacon of positivity and a true asset to her community.

Sixth Annual Valued Volunteer Award WinnersData Drive Decisions

MacArthur Elementary

It’s hard not to feel grateful and optimistic about the amazing partnership between MacArthur Elementary and Reading Partners. Since joining forces in 2015, the leadership of Principal Twyla Waterson and the dedication of MacArthur staff have made an incredible impact on the literacy growth of students.

Twyla Waterson has been a principal with Tulsa Public Schools since 2002. She may be a principal, but her passion is instruction. It is rare to find her in the office because she is always in the classroom supporting teachers and students. Her passion for instruction has made MacArthur an ideal partner school. Mrs. Waterson has built relationships with program coordinators, eagerly welcomes tutors, and values the work of Reading Partners. Mrs. Waterson actively seeks progress monitoring data on Reading Partners students because she is invested in students’ literacy growth and success.

In the 2023-24 program year, 39 MacArthur Elementary students were served through the Reading Partners program with 91% attendance for a total of 1,085 tutoring sessions. Students enrolled in Reading Partners are on track to meet their regional primary literacy growth goal by the end of the year – a testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone involved.

“Reading Partners is amazing because my students are making significant gains with the help of Reading Partners’ services and tutoring sessions. I am grateful for all that Reading Partners does to help improve the students’ skills!” said Ms. Sells, a kindergarten teacher at MacArthur Elementary.

It’s truly heartwarming to see such a strong commitment to literacy growth in our students, and we’re grateful for the hard work and dedication of everyone at MacArthur Elementary. Thank you for being such an incredible partner in helping our students succeed!

tulsa sixth annual valued volunteer awardsVolunteers Get Results

Tulsa Tech Early Care and Education

We are excited to recognize Tulsa Tech Early Care and Education as our winner of the Volunteers Get Results Award. Since our partnership began in 2019, the class has blazed a trail of excellence, providing over 600 tutoring sessions through the support of 126 students.

The two-year program at Tulsa Tech, a cornerstone of their curriculum, prepares students with essential skills to become early childhood educators. During the fall semester, high school students who are enrolled in the program and interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education, learn the foundations of caring for young children. In the spring, they proceed to practical applications of the material previously learned by working in Tulsa Tech’s early childhood center and with Reading Partners.

“Working with Reading Partners allows my students to work with young children in the school system. Our students get over 1,000 hours of hands-on experience in the childcare center. Still, we have many students who are interested in becoming an elementary school teacher, so the experience of tutoring elementary students is a wonderful opportunity,” said Brigitte Ground, Tulsa Tech Early Care and Education Instructor.

Coming from several high schools across Tulsa, the students from Tulsa Tech are concurrently enrolled in the program that will equip them with a solid foundation needed to become teachers, open their own early childhood centers, and much more. Not only are they dedicated to their regular reading partners, but they are also flexible and always willing to help with additional tutoring sessions. 

This year, we are grateful to have students from Tulsa Tech show up in big numbers at Skelly Elementary every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, providing positive experiences for several young readers. Reading Partners allows them the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and execute a lesson plan. It’s informative for Brigitte’s students because, for many, it’s their first time working one-on-one with students, and they always feel prepared to be successful using the scripted lesson plan and curriculum.

“The Early Care and Education students gain many different skills while tutoring with Reading Partners: time management, decision making, problem-solving, leadership and the biggest one is confidence!” Brigitte said.

Thank you, Brigitte, and the students from Tulsa Tech Early Care and Education, for being partners in this work. We couldn’t do it without you!

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