OKLAHOMA CITY – Positive Tomorrows, Oklahoma’s only school for homeless children, is celebrating 25 years of service and education during National Hunger and Homelessness Week, November 14-22.
Since opening in November 1990, the school has served approximately 5,000 students and grown from a staff of seven to 22. Over the past 25 years, Positive Tomorrows has more than doubled the number of students it can accommodate while increasing the average child’s stay from eight to 85 days.
“We are thrilled to have made such an impact in the lives of our state’s most vulnerable children over the past quarter century,” said Susan Agel, Positive Tomorrows president. “Because we must turn away more than 100 students each year due to a lack of physical space, it is our mission for the next 25 years to further our reach into Oklahoma’s expanding homeless population.”
In addition to educating homeless children and their families for life, Positive Tomorrows served 26,384 meals, provided 617 individual counseling sessions and helped 91 percent of families improve their housing conditions during the 2014-2015 academic year.
Positive Tomorrows was funded in part by Oklahoma City Public Schools until 2006, but now relies nearly entirely on private donations and grants that enable educators to customize the curriculum in a way that meets the unique challenges of their students.
“Because we are privately funded, I can completely customize my teaching to the individual student, who may be three of four years behind their peers academically,” said Shelly Fryer, a third and fourth-grade teacher at Positive Tomorrows. “The fact that we have been thriving for nine years on donations and grants is proof that Oklahomans care deeply about our children and the issues of hunger and homelessness.”
Designed as a bridge program to help homeless students enroll in public school, Positive Tomorrows is a tuition-free private school that still aims to integrate students back into public school by implementing individualized learning for delayed students while offering safety, stability and basic necessities.
“I’m not going to sugar coat it, [being homeless] is scary, but after you get through it you can become something great,” said Roshawna Stevens, a Positive Tomorrows alumni. “Positive Tomorrows will be with me every step of the way, and if you ask me what I’m going to do next, I’m going to be something big.”
Students and faculty will celebrate this milestone at the school’s annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, where families and children unite to count their blessings and enjoy a traditional holiday meal. Positive Tomorrows’ patrons will be honored on Dec. 4, 2015 at the school’s annual private Gold Star Luncheon.
Note: Positive Tomorrows is Oklahoma’s only private, tuition-free elementary school specifically serving homeless children and their families. Students at Positive Tomorrows receive a quality, trauma-informed education while their parents get the support they need to create a better life. Positive Tomorrows is a United Way Partner Agency, an Oklahoma A+ School and is accredited by the North Central Association, a regional Accreditation Division of AdvancED. To learn more, visit www.positivetomorrows.org.