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22 Oklahoma Outstanding Mentors, 2 from Oklahoma City, honored during National Mentor Month

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter

OKLAHOMA CITY – Twenty-two outstanding Oklahoma mentors are being recognized by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence (OFE) and their community mentoring organizations during National Mentor Month in January.  Two individuals from Oklahoma City were honored.

The honored mentors were submitted by their respective mentoring organizations across the state.

Each received certificates of achievement from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. The certificates are being presented in the communities where the mentors volunteer.

Recognized mentors from Oklahoma City include Jolene Ingram, a retired community volunteer and the outstanding mentor for Whiz Kids Oklahoma and Nancy Nathaniel, a retired community volunteer, has been named the outstanding mentor for the Integris Positive Directions Mentoring Program at Stanley Hupfeld Academy.

“Jolene is loyal, kind, intelligent, articulate, loving, wise and fun,” said Amy Bruce, operations manager for Whiz Kids. “She has supported Whiz Kids and her mentees financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually during her time with our organization,” Bruce continued.

Due to injuries from a childhood auto accident, Jolene has limited mobility. Her mentee, That That, also lives with a disability which has allowed Ingram to empathize and connect with her. In addition, Jolene has a special way of connecting with students who have struggles and need extra confidence and love.

“Jolene is always ready, always available and always on time for her mentee or any student at our site that needs her as a sub,” Bruce added.

Nathaniel has been mentoring with the Integris Health Positive Directions Program for 22 years. She and her mentee Jade have been matched for three years.

“Nancy’s dedication to mentoring is inspiring. She loves watching children grasp a new concept and helping them learn,” said Kathy Lowder, mentor program coordinator. “During her time with our program she has always found a way to forge a special bond with her mentee, making special effort not to miss a birthday or special moment,” Lowder said.

Emily Stratton, executive director of the Foundation for Excellence said, “We salute these outstanding mentors for the important role they play in helping young people achieve better academic, social and economic futures. Oklahoma mentors are truly changing lives!”

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Through its statewide mentoring initiative, the foundation promotes the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs.

OFE works with school districts and mentoring organizations to promote mentoring as a positive step toward academic success.

“Through a statewide survey of mentoring organizations, we found that the most positive program outcomes were improved academic performance, positive mentor-mentee relationships, improved behavior, increased self-esteem and greater enrichment opportunities for participating youth,” Stratton said.

“Mentoring also helps students develop resilience and feel supported as they face difficult life challenges,” Stratton added.

National Mentoring Month is a campaign sponsored by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to celebrate the power of mentoring relationships and recruit new volunteer mentors. The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence provides a directory of mentoring organizations across the state seeking volunteers.

Honored mentor bios and program descriptions are listed online by their hometown and the city in which they mentor. For a list of all honored mentors, visit  

This story first appeared online on Jan. 20, 2021.