By Paula Burkes

Q&A with Joe Pierce

Mentors, tutors will be needed at downtown elementary school

Q: A community forum on Oklahoma City’s first downtown elementary school, which is under construction at N Walker and Sheridan, will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library. How can business leaders play a role in the school’s success?

A: The John Rex Charter Elementary School (JRCES) will provide a unique and rich learning experience unlike any other in Oklahoma. Thanks to the many businesses within walking distance of the school, students will be exposed to cultural amenities such as the arts and museums as well as opportunities to learn about government, civics, law and citizenship. There also will be volunteer opportunities such as mentorship and tutoring. For example, companies can help by underwriting extended day programs to expand children’s exposure to the arts, robotics or various other interests.

Q: Scheduled to open this fall, the school will serve students who live within the designated JRCES attendance boundary. Can children of downtown employees attend?

A: First-priority enrollment goes to children who already live within the designated attendance boundary. But families who work in downtown are eligible to apply for admission. There are several tiers of application. If classes fill quickly, a lottery system will determine acceptance.

Q: How can downtown employers help with recruiting families to enroll or apply?

A: The enrollment and application time frame is Feb. 1 through March 14. Employers can help by sharing this information via newsletters, emails, calendars, social media and internal communication. Families need to visit the John Rex Charter Welcome Center in the Oklahoma Tower at Park Avenue and Harvey Avenue to fill out the appropriate paperwork. The center’s hours and the designated attendance boundary are listed on our website at http://johnrexschool.com/

Q: What other benefits do downtown employers offer an urban school experience?

A: One of the most important things a quality school provides is a relevant learning environment. This is crucial for today’s learners. Downtown employers are an extension of our school, much like adjunct faculty. Our students will be able to go out into the city, or the city can come into the school to enhance authentic learning opportunities such as career exploration and citizenship readiness.