Setting Them Up for Success - Metro Technology Centers’ Hosts Freedom School OKC 2022
Non-Profit Summer Literacy Program for Underserved Youth Held at Metro Tech’s Springlake Campus
OKLAHOMA CITY – For more than nine years, Metro Technology Centers’ Community Outreach and Wellness Department has partnered with Freedom School OKC. The five-week literacy camp targets underserved first through fifth grade students from Northeast Oklahoma City. Utilizing an integrated reading curriculum, Freedom School helps children develop a love for reading and writing while increasing self-esteem and generating positive attitudes toward learning.
Metro Tech’s Director of the Community Outreach and Wellness Department and Freedom School OKC Board Member, Valerie McMurry, said serving the underserved is something the department consistently focuses on when partnering with external partners.
“Having Freedom School at Metro Tech is a privilege every year,” McMurry said. “The children of this area struggle the most with reading and writing. Freedom School gives them the opportunity to grow their skills in a fun and immersive way and it sets them up for success.”
When camp starts, students become known as "scholars" and they are split up into groups by grade. From 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the scholars experience a wide variety of reading and writing curriculum. However, this is not your average classroom. The scholars also get to dance, sing, paint and participate in artistic activities with their servant leaders every day, allowing them to experience exciting learning opportunities in a nurturing environment.
Servant leaders at Freedom School, who act as instructors, are college interns and they undergo a two-week training before the camp begins. They are then tasked with creating lesson plans for the groups. With counsel from experienced teachers who also serve on the Freedom School Board, the servant leaders become equipped with the knowledge to prepare activities and lessons based on the specific educational needs of the students.
Those needs are assessed and measured by benchmark tests taken on the first day of camp, the third week of camp and the last day of camp, as well as “exit tickets” at the end of the day, to assess whether the scholars absorbed the lessons for that day. If results from the second test indicate that specific scholars are struggling in certain areas of the curriculum, the opportunity for one-on-one sessions for those children becomes available.
Many of the servant leaders are pursuing a career in early education and see Freedom School as an opportunity for hands-on experience before they become full-time teachers. Executive Director of Freedom School, Brittany Carter, said servant leaders have even approached her to express their appreciation for the opportunity to get a head start on their career.
“Not only are we preparing the scholars for a successful school year, but future teachers as well,” Carter said.
Carter also said on average, Freedom School participants improve their reading skills to be four months ahead of other youth in their same grade in school.
“That’s huge because if you know anything about the school system, most kids experience what we call the ‘summer slide,’” Carter said. “With that, they lose reading skills, but our students not only gain reading skills, they also improve on what they already know.”
On Wednesday, July 13, Freedom School held a Read-A-Thon where Metro Technology Centers’ Superintendent, Aaron Collins, Audio and Video Manager, Kakio Richardson and Community Outreach and Wellness Department Specialist, Rhonda Wright, read a book of their choice to the scholars.
“When you open a book and start an adventure together through a fun story, their faces light up and it truly brings your heart joy,” Collins said. “Metro Tech is always honored to have Freedom School on campus during the summer. It’s one of the many ways we partner with the community to improve educational outcomes in our district.”
To round out the summer full of fun and learning, scholars were honored at the Freedom School graduation ceremony where they were recognized for their diligence and participation in the camp.
If you are interested in enrolling your scholar in Freedom School, visit https://fsokc.org/enroll.php
- Press Release
Metro Technology Centers
One of the largest and most diverse technology centers in Oklahoma, Metro Tech has four campuses offering short-term, career and customized business training. Campuses are located in South Oklahoma City, Northeast Oklahoma City, the Will Rogers Airport and Downtown Oklahoma City. www.metrotech.edu
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