Foundation Helps Tulsa Schools

Thursday, March 12th 2009, 9:34 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - It's a million dollar helping hand for Tulsa Public Schools.  Over eight years, The Foundation for Tulsa Schools has raised nearly $6 million to help support the district.

Mrs. Stone's classroom at Mitchell Elementary is filled with voices.  But, the fourth graders aren't just chatting, they're reading.

"Ok, now let's stop and think a minute," said teacher Bonnie Stone.

As a former literacy coach, Bonnie Stone knows the power of the written word.  But, her students who are about 80% English language learners were struggling.  And, some school books weren't reaching them.

"Ya know the state is very wonderful for providing textbook money. But, the way I like to teach, I don't really teach the textbook. Textbooks weren't working for my children," said teacher Bonnie Stone.

Stone says novels can open a young mind in a way your typical textbook can't.  So, she set out to capture her students' attention with words.  Cabinets full of them.  All made possible with grants from the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.

"A grant here.  A grant here.  We buy some books here and then pretty soon I have this astonishing collection of literature that the children can read," said teacher Bonnie Stone.

The foundation has raised nearly $6 million since 2001.  They provide $500 grants for teachers like Bonnie Stone.  And, the organization is there to give teachers a high-five, giving bonuses to educators at schools with the most improved test scores.       

Stone says the foundation and its many donors offer her tangible support for what she does every day.

"There are real people behind this. Real people that are supporting what I'm doing in my classroom and so I am not as much of an island as I thought I was," said teacher Bonnie Stone.