Since 2011, Teach For America has worked in partnership with many of Oklahoma City's community organizations to create opportunities for kids in our most underserved communities. Corps members and alumni in our network have the incredible privilege to engage with leaders in our state house and in city council board rooms and help inform policy and practice to drive systemic change.
Thanks to a revitalization effort that began in the 1990s, Oklahoma City has been in the midst of a multi-decade renaissance. With a low cost of living and future endeavors underway such as the creation of an innovation district, a 70-acre downtown park and more, OKC is primed for even more growth into the future. It will become the site for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum near downtown, a world-class facility that will tell the powerful and significant story of American Indians in Oklahoma. One of the challenges to date is the rebuilding of our public education system that holds the lives and futures of of our future generation in its care.
Over the past decade, Oklahoma City has realized progress towards educational equity and excellence for students attending public schools and showed signs of our resolve to operate with the Oklahoma standard to improve the lives of students from cradle to career in that:
- We are ensuring every child has a strong start and is ready to learn by providing access to high-quality early learning with universal pre-K for four year olds.
- We are creating the school models and systems along the K-12 experience to sustain the gains from our nationally recognized early childhood programming.
- More kids have the chance to go to college or start a meaningful career than did 10 years ago as they end their K-12 journey in Oklahoma through more access to the ACT college entrance exam and enrollment in a quality career and technical education system.
Teach For America's contribution to this emerging renaissance story in education can be seen through the impact our leaders are having at all layers of the systems that shape a student's experience in public schools. Consider the story of Jordan Naylor. An Oklahoma native, she graduated from University of Oklahoma and joined Teach For America in 2013. She taught kindergarten at Southern Hills and achieved 90 percent mastery of math goals/objectives, an average of 2.2 years of reading growth with 100 percent of students scoring at level or above level on math and reading benchmarks.
Jordan’s strength in parent engagement included spending time in family outing or community events, going to dinner with families, sending bilingual folders at the beginning of the year for families, and keeping constant communication with families. Her parent interviews and artifacts were highlighted in parent engagement sessions for others to learn from. She expanded her leadership as an ECE content specialist and led professional development for other educators.
Over the next four years, we will accelerate progress towards systems change in our community by:
- Developing classroom, school, and system leaders that expand opportunity for children in transformative and culturally responsive ways
- Sustaining an outstanding and diverse teacher force for urban and rural communities we serve by staying on the cutting edge of inspiring the next generation of leaders
- Collaborating with our communities to strengthen schools through sustained and networked communities acting as a force for change
- Solidifying all elements to enable us to be an enduring local organization supported by a strong board, committed supporters, and a thriving staff
Active corps members serving in Oklahoma City metro and Lawton
Alumni in our service communities
Teachers in K-12 classrooms
Total leadership network contributing to One Day locally
“Aside from the new experience of living in OK, I knew there was a great need for educators here. The movement for educational equity is being championed by passionate community leaders in OKC, but the fact remains that we need more people on the front lines in the classroom.”
Regional Staff & Board Leadership
Art Serna, Executive Director
People, Culture, and Strategy Team
Chelsea Wilson, Chief of Staff
Erin Zehren, Manager Culture and Operations
Open, Associate Development and Communications
Open, Director Development and Communications
Program Continuum Team
Sarah Park, Senior Managing Director Program Continuum
Matriculation and On-boarding
Open, Manager Corps Experience
Teacher Leadership Development
Foluke Olorunnisola, Director Teacher Leadership Development (Elementary)
Nicole Silvestri, Manager Teacher Leadership Development
Lauren Jenks Jones, Manager Teacher Leadership Development
Isaac Freeman, Manager Teacher Leadership Development
Aeriel Thompson, Manager Teacher Leadership Development
Brianne Steffensmeier, Manager Teacher Leadership Development
Lauren Durmus, Director Leadership and Engagement
Open, Director School Leadership & Policy
Community Volunteer (Board Chair, Governance Committee Chair)
OG&E (Chair Elect)
Ruth Ann Regens
Westminster School (Secretary)
University of Oklahoma
Deborah Ann Schramm
Inasmuch Foundation (Recruitment/Retention Committee Chair)
Love's Travel Stops (Development Committee Chair)
National Indian Education Association (NIEA)