By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) leaders recently recognized twenty-eight 7th and 8th graders from John Marshall Enterprise Middle School for their outstanding academic achievement during the school’s Impact Grand Point Challenge. During the challenge, each student earned at least 4 A’s during the fall semester.
The students were each presented with a $50 Visa gift card, donated by Dr. Lee Beasley, on behalf of the John Marshall Impact Team, as a way to congratulate and encourage them to continue striving for academic excellence.
The event was held on Jan. 24 in the library of John Marshall Middle School, located in north Oklahoma City serving 5th through 8th-grade students.
Last fall, Jimmy Lawson, Rose State College Adjunct Professor, John Marshall High School alumni, and Founder of the John Marshall Impact Team, created the Impact Grade Point Challenge, encouraging students to earn at least 4 A’s during the semester. A reward was promised to those who were able to accomplish the goal.
The John Marshall Enterprise Board met to discuss ways to recognize the students.
Dr. Lee Beasley, a member of the board, stepped up to support the initiative by donating $50 Visa gift cards to each student completely the challenge.
“The vision of impacting the next generation of Oklahoma City economic producers came from the notion of how my father and other community leaders impacted me growing up,” said Lawson.
“Our Impact Team is comprised of mainly John Marshall Alumni who are professionals and have a passion for mentoring and being a positive role model to students. The power of simply caring can have a lifelong impact on a child’s life; and that is the goal of our team,” Lawson added.
“We are so proud of these students and thankful for our Partners in Action at the John Marshall Impact Team and for Dr. Beasley’s generous donation,” said Dr. Sean McDaniel, OKCPS Superintendent.
“It is no secret that shortly after we began the school year, we experienced challenges at John Marshall Enterprise Middle School,” McDaniel added. “At that time, we made a conscious decision to push the reset button, facing those challenges head on and making plans to overcome them while also supporting our students, families and staff. But, we can’t do it alone.
“I was so moved when Jimmy Lawson and several other John Marshall alumni stepped in to create the John Marshall Impact Team. Rather than just pointing out problems, Jimmy asked what he could do to help,” McDaniel stated.
“As one of our Partners in Action, Jimmy’s team now spends time each week with our kids, making a difference in their lives by teaching them core values and skills such as leadership, accountability, integrity and academic excellence.
McDaniel continued, “We hope that this academic challenge and Dr. Beasley’s generous donation will not only serve as recognition, but will also teach our students that academic excellence and hard work bring reward.”
The Impact Team provides mentoring, success planning, and life lessons.
“My wife Sherry and I have been very involved with education throughout our lives and we have supported John Marshall for the last 4 years,” said Beasley. “It is our belief that by supporting students’ education we will help them become better citizens, and that is why we continue to support John Marshall and other educational institutions.
“What Jimmy Lawson is doing is truly remarkable because not only is he acting as a mentor to these kids, but he is also rewarding the ones who have put in the work to achieve academic excellence.” Dr. Beasley added.
Michael Harris, Principal at John Marshall Enterprise Middle School, said, “It is truly amazing to see how our community partners and alumni have come together to support and make a difference at our school.
“Our students are getting the opportunity to spend time with professionals from different fields who grew up in their neighborhood and faced some of the same challenges these kids face,” said Harris.
“By spending time with successful adults who look like them, students are able to see themselves in these mentors and learn not to settle for the status quo but to aim for excellence in every aspect of their lives,” Harris added.
Although numerous other students met the goal of obtaining 4 A’s during the semester, the reward was only offered to 7th and 8th grade students who signed up for and met the Impact Grade Point Challenge.
The John Marshall Impact Team plans to continue supporting students and expanding the Grade Point Challenge to other grade levels in the future.
“I highly encourage other community supporters who would like to have an impact on our next generation to get involved with Oklahoma City Public Schools, because every child deserves the chance to be great,” Lawson said.
For more information, visit the John Marshall Impact Team Facebook page.