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September 27, 2016 - Oklahoma's Promise Recipients Promote Literacy

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Chancellor Glen D. Johnson with April and Bianka Tobias, OKPromise recipients.For April and Bianka Tobias, reading intervention and receiving the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship were instrumental in redirecting the trajectory of their lives.

The Tobiases recently addressed Oklahoma educators at the ninth annual reading conference, “Proven Strategies to Strengthen Struggling Readers,” and charged participants to never give up on kids who need extra help in reading.

April is a health, exercise science and pre-physical therapy major at the University of Oklahoma, and Bianka is a communications major at the university.

The Tobiases’ experience was a testimonial of how teachers at Eugene Field Elementary School in Oklahoma City recognized the need for reading intervention plans based on their English language learning proficiency. 

“These two talented students demonstrate the value of literacy initiatives and of the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship, which has helped more than 70,000 Oklahomans achieve the dream of going to college,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Clearly, these transformational programs create not only pathways to completing a college degree, but life-changing opportunities.”

Before a crowd of master teachers, higher education faculty and statewide educational strategists, the Tobiases credited not only their teachers, but their grandparents and their Whiz Kids tutors for helping them pursue post-secondary degrees.

“If reading skills don’t come by second grade, it doesn’t mean you are a failure as a teacher,” said April. “A teacher’s investment now is a contribution to a student’s future. My challenge to you as teachers is to develop and encourage curiosity in struggling readers.”  

Higher education teacher preparation programs are collaborating with K-12 schools and other educational agencies to identify and share successful intervention strategies, a partnership designed to strengthen student reading skills.

“These collaborative relationships promote reading strategies, methodologies, and other best practices to help inform effective instruction for all students,” said Dr. Goldie Thompson, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s director of teacher education and the Oklahoma Teacher Connection.

Established by Senate Resolution 70, which created the Task Force on Reading Curriculum and Instruction to study the teaching of reading and the Reading Sufficiency Act, the reading conference is sponsored by the State Regents in partnership with Cameron University, Langston University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma and the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability.

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