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A Letter from Our President & CEO

Welcome to our Q2 newsletter. It’s hard to believe we are at the halfway point of 2024 and our 40th anniversary year. Within this collection of highlights, you’ll read about many of our programs and initiatives making a significant impact in our schools. You’ll also find ways to get involved – we need your support to help our kids, teachers and schools! Additionally, you’ll learn about some amazing individuals who are part of our school district, both past and present.

We are excited to officially and publicly welcome Dr. Jamie Polk, who took the helm as Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent on July 1. The team at the OKCPS Foundation is already working closely with Dr. Polk and her team. We will continue to collaborate as strategic partners and our joint commitment to remaining aligned with what’s best for kids is part of every conversation we have.

Most have seen the news by now that I’ve announced my retirement at the end of this calendar year. Details about the official search and job posting will be shared soon, but I have to mention again that the past 10 years has been the most rewarding time of my career. Thank you for believing in our work and in our kids. Thank you for understanding that our schools can’t do it alone.

For more information about our Foundation and our 40th anniversary, we encourage you to watch the video below.

-Mary Mélon-Tully

OKCPS Foundation President & CEO

It’s summer now, but the OKCPS Foundation’s focus is already turning to the upcoming chilly months as we kick-off our 2024 Coat-a-Kid campaign. Nearly 92% of OKCPS’ 33,000 students live in poverty, and while student’s families work tirelessly to make ends meet and pay necessary bills, they are often unable to afford items like coats. As a result, every winter, thousands of kids in the district lack coats to keep them warm, safe and comfortable.

“We want to encourage everyone in the community to participate in this year’s Coat-a-Kid fundraiser. Any donation is appreciated and will help us provide thousands of OKCPS children with much-needed physical and emotional warmth.”

– Mary Mélon-Tully

Make your donation to the Coat-a-Kid campaign today. Every $20 donated provides a brand-new coat for a child in need.

Donate Here

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation is proud to announce Dr. Kenneth Blair Sr., Phil G. Busey Sr., L. Michael Dillard, Dr. Colleen J. Payne-Nabors and Christina Rehkop as our 2024 Wall of Fame honorees. This year’s class includes four traditional honorees, with one being honored posthumously, and one Unsung Hero honoree, also being honored posthumously. 

Read their stories:

The 2024 honorees will be inducted into the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation Wall of Fame on October 28 at the 40th annual Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards event at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Doors will open at 5:30pm for a welcome reception, with the program and seated dinner starting at 6:45pm. The 2024 event co-chairs are Pastor Derrick Scobey, 2020 Wall of Fame member and Tana Cashion, OKCPS Foundation Board of Directors Chair-Elect.

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Want to learn more about sponsorship opportunities?


Become A Reading Buddy or Book Club Leader

Are you looking for a way to make a meaningful impact in the community? ReadOKC Reading Buddies and Book Clubs offer volunteers the opportunity to be a positive role model for OKCPS students.

When our students go to Reading Buddies every week, they are filled with excitement. Students partake in different reading activities and build new reading skills. The amount of growth these students have made has been amazing to watch. What has stood out to me is the positive feedback from parents. I have received phone calls from parents saying they have seen growth in their child. I hope this program reaches more schools and more volunteers want to experience such an amazing program.

– Victoria H., Elementary Education Teacher

Volunteering at Ridgeview has been a transformative experience. From struggling with basic words, she blossomed into a confident reader, capable of completing entire books during our sessions. Witnessing her growth and dedication was incredibly rewarding.

– Amber P., ReadOKC Volunteer

Learn More
Volunteer Application

Summer Learning Success

The OKCPS Foundation, in partnership with Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health, supported the OKCPS Elementary Summer Learning curriculum and provided a guest author experience for Middle School students. 

Each of the seven elementary school sites received a set of books for each grade level that ties into the “Character Strong” lessons, highlighting important traits such as responsibility, empathy, perseverance, creativity, kindness, respect, courage and cooperation. 

Middle school students had the pleasure of attending an in-person presentation with Rebecca Balcárcel, a Guatemalan-Anglo American and award-winning author of Shine on, Luz Véliz! and The Other Half of Happy. Each student received a signed copy of one of her books!

On May 9, Jennifer Reyes-Garcia, fourth grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School, was named the 2024 OKCPS District Teacher of the year by OKCPS and the OKCPS Foundation.

“I decided to become a teacher around 5th grade because I had a teacher who was there for me when I needed someone to save my life. She gave me an out, something my siblings did not have, she gave me hope, and she gave me a future,” Reyes-Garcia recalled. “I decided I would do the same thing for other students who were in my position.”

Also recognized at this event were:

  • All OKCPS teacher of the year finalists
  • Julianne Anthony, Math Teacher at Wheeler Middle School
  • Sally Berry, Math Strategies and Creative Writing Teacher at Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School
  • Jacqualine Bufford, French Teacher at Northwest Classen High School
  • Lindsey Clinton, Library Media Specialist at Adelaide Lee Elementary School
  • Brandi Kelley, Dance Teacher at Classen School of Advanced Studies Middle School
  • Eric Parker, Sheltered Social Studies Teacher at Taft Middle School
  • Dominique Poncelet, Science and Study Skills Teacher at Southeast Middle School
  • Drew Rhodes, Social Studies Teacher at Emerson South Mid-High School
  • The Sam and Charolet Shirley Outstanding Principal Award Winners
  • Kandy Bishop of Monroe Elementary and Shane Nelson of Putnam Heights Academy
  • The Willie O. Reynolds Excellence in Science Teaching Award Winner
  • Dominique Poncelet at Southeast Middle School
  • The Barbary Ann Norman Keith Excellence in Math Teaching Award Winner
  • Julianne Anthony at Wheeler Middle School
  • OKCPS Volunteer Spotlight Award Winners
  • Tina Murray at Hawthorne Elementary, Becky Robinson at Nichols Hills Elementary and Meredith Monaco at John Marshall Enterprise High School
  • OKCPS Support Staff Spotlight Award Winners
  • Lashona Fields at Arthur Elementary, Silvia Sanchez at Hawthorne Elementary and Katie Madison at Monroe Elementary
  • OKCPS Community Partner Spotlight Award Winners
  •  Dell Technologies, Reign Capital Holdings and Northwest Baptist Church
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Congratulations to the 2024 Spring Teacher Pipeline Program graduates!

Jamie Coles

Martha Martinez-Ramos

Maira Mejia

Lissa Nunez

Priscilla Rojas

This Foundation-led initiative provides full financial support for paraprofessionals as they earn their degrees and become certified OKCPS teachers, helping local schools recruit and retain passionate educators and furthering the district’s diverse teacher workforce. 

Program participants earn their degrees while balancing full-time jobs, family commitments and other obligations, a testament to their incredible work ethic and passion for educating tomorrow’s leaders.

“The recent graduates of our Teacher Pipeline Program represent the very best of our district. It’s an honor to recognize these hardworking and passionate individuals, and we can’t wait to see them teach, inspire and empower future generations of students at OKCPS.” - Mary Mélon-Tully, president and CEO of the OKCPS Foundation

Teacher Pipeline Magic Moment:

The positive influence that our Teacher Pipeline Program graduates have on our OKCPS students is tremendous. These teachers are making a difference every day, leading their own classrooms and impacting the lives of their students. During his first year as a teacher, Fernando Ochoa worked with newcomer students at Northwest Classen High School and one was so inspired by his journey that she decided to apply to the High School to Teacher Pipeline Program. Wendy Herrera Castillo’s goal is, “To make a positive impact on the lives of my students, contribute to the future of education, and help the next me meet their dreams.” This August, Wendy will start her college career as a participant in our program and pursue her dream of becoming a teacher like Mr.Ochoa, the teacher who inspired her.

Interested in applying?


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A big thank you to everyone who purchased a 2024 T-Up for OKCPS t-shirt to support the work of our Foundation. The campaign raised a total of $110,000! We celebrated by wearing the t-shirts together as a community on the same day as our Stars of Education event. Hundreds of Stars of Education guests wore their T-Up for OKCPS shirt as we recognized the winners.

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Donor Spotlight:

Presbyterian Health Foundation

The Presbyterian Health Foundation has renewed their generous $25,000 support for STEM books on our ReadOKC On the Go! buses. This contribution is essential in bringing educational resources to children in our community. Thank you for your continued generosity!

A big thank you to the PHF leadership for their presence at the check presentation.

Pictured: Jodi Coats, Grants and Programs Manager; Amanda Vermillion, CFO; Abbie Vaughan, OKCPS Foundation Director of Community Outreach; Alison Taylor, OKCPS Foundation ReadOKC On The Go! Program Manager; Rick McCune, PHF President; Mary Mélon-Tully, OKCPS Foundation President & CEO; April Stuart, Director of Grants and Programs

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our incredible Friends of the Foundation. Your unwavering support truly makes a difference and is the driving force behind all of this wonderful news. Thank you!

Want to become a Friend of the Foundation?

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A special thank you to our dedicated Community Partners. Your commitment to supporting the students and educators of Oklahoma City is invaluable. We are proud to provide our Foundation Partners with exceptional returns on their investments by showcasing the outcomes and impacts of their support.

Together, we are making a significant difference in our community. Thank you for your unwavering support!

Want to become a Foundation Partner?

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