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Reading Partners Bringing Program To 4 Union Elementary Schools


The nonprofit Reading Partners is branching out after eight years in Tulsa.

The organization is bringing volunteer tutors to students at Union’s Roy Clark, Grove, McAuliffe and Peters elementary schools this fall. Reading Partners already serves more than two dozen Tulsa Public Schools sites.

Reading Partners Tulsa Executive Director Heather Kawlra said talks with Union administrators started about two years ago.

"We worked with the district to narrow that down to a starting group of four schools that both had students who would benefit from our programming, who would really excel in a one-on-one tutoring model with our community volunteers, and schools that also had volunteer partnerships that could help us support getting tutors into the buildings to work with the students in this way," Kawlra said.

While schools are welcoming back masked tutors, Reading Partners will continue to offer virtual tutoring as an option this school year. The program went almost entirely virtual last school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic; 97% of its more than 15,000 session in Tulsa last year were on a Zoom-based platform called Reading Partners Connects.

That platform will continue to be available this school year to tutors who prefer it. Kawlra said the same content gets translated to an online format — think PowerPoint presentations instead of whiteboards — and about 80% of more than 600 participating students last year stayed on track for literacy growth goals.

"So, we were able to really take the program that we use in person and make it accessible on the computer and make it as fun and engaging as our traditional tutoring," Kawlra said.

Reading Partners is looking for 1,700 volunteer tutors this year to work with more than 1,400 students. More information is at readingpartners.org.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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