Serve the student, gain the graduate

The City Year Tulsa program helps teachers focus on educating students by addressing behavioral and tutoring needs.



Sequoyah Elementary fourth-grader Edriece Anderson works on a project with City Year member Gabe Woolley. Sequoyah is one of six Tulsa Public Schools sites where City Year members collaborate with classroom teachers to help address behavior, poor attendance and course-related hurdles.

In Rachel Smith’s fifth-grade classroom at Sequoyah Elementary School, a small desk is pushed against one wall with stacks of folders and a dozen origami swans. Over the back of the adult-sized chair is draped the signature red AmeriCorps jacket. This is where Ms. Nataly operates — some of the time at least. 

In June, she finished her one-year commitment as a teacher with City Year, an AmeriCorps program that provides classroom help with behavioral needs and tutoring.

Ms. Nataly — or, if you aren’t an elementary school student, Nataly Cruz — came to Tulsa from Miami, Florida, in July 2014. After graduating from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Cruz’s interest was piqued at the opportunity to help introduce the City Year program to Oklahoma. 

City Year members are 17- to 24-year-olds who are selected through a demanding application process and intensive training. Assignments are based on the evaluated strengths and talents of corps members. City Year looks for individuals who have experience working on a team and demonstrate commitment, humility, self-awareness, flexibility and problem-solving skills, as well as experience working with youth and/or tutoring and mentoring. Teacher certification is not required.

Usually, they are recent high school or college graduates who are taking a “gap year” before moving on to higher education or the workforce. During their 11-month commitment, members receive training and support in behavior coaching and tutoring for various learning styles.

City Year came to Tulsa Public Schools in the 2013-2014 school year in response to the TPS graduation rate of 65 percent (in 2012-2013), well below the statewide average of 85 percent. City Year was called to Tulsa by Growing Together, a collaboration of organizations that enables children to live, learn and thrive in their neighborhoods and schools, and to support at-risk children in the Kendall Whittier and Eugene Field elementary schools.

Fifty City Year members are divided into teams working at Sequoyah, Eugene Field and Kendall Whittier elementary schools; Will Rogers Junior High; Clinton Middle School; and Webster High School. Within 10 years, City Year expects to have 220 AmeriCorps members serving in approximately 24 Tulsa schools.

“Our founding year has set the groundwork for incredible impact in our schools,” says City Year Tulsa’s Executive Director Tom McKeon. “We’re seeing results in our schools that confirm our belief that every student has potential and can succeed.” 

 

Read a personal account of life as a City Year Tulsa member.

 

Changing student outcomes

According to City Year research, a sixth-grader who has poor attendance, displays disruptive behavior, or is failing math or English has only a 25 percent chance of graduating high school on time. 

When a student as young as third grade demonstrates any of these early warning signs, City Year members step in to address behavior, attendance and course-related hurdles, specifically in math and English. 

Teachers, in partnership with City Year Tulsa members, identify students who are below grade level in math and English proficiency based on standardized tests. These students are placed on a list to receive support from City Year members.

Cruz’s English lessons usually focused on improving fluency (understanding each word on the page) and comprehension (summarizing the story after reading it). She developed specific lesson plans and determined the best teaching method for each student.

Two fifth-graders started the year with reading scores between 500-600, Smith says; the proficiency score is 830. 

“Seeing them work toward their goals with Nataly was incredible,” Smith says. By the end of the year, “one of those students was proficient and the other was very close behind. They both exceeded their goals and made beyond one year’s worth of growth.”

One of Cruz’s most memorable students was Jacob Pester. His teacher and parents worked with Cruz to address his behavioral problems. 

“At the beginning of the year, he was getting into a lot of fights with the other kids, and it would always come down to him telling me, ‘They deserved it,’” Cruz remembers.

She spent a semester asking him questions like, “Why did that happen?” and “How do you think the other person is feeling?” Ultimately, she says, each conversation came to the same conclusion: “You can’t control the other person’s behavior, but you can control yours. What are you going to do?” 

By the end of the fall semester, “‘He deserved it’ was out of Jacob’s vocabulary,” Cruz says. “He’s an 11-year-old boy, and he’s still learning, but now he knows how to step away from situations.” By the end of the school year, he was supporting and coaching his friends on their behavior, Cruz adds. 

According to Pester, it’s hard to talk about Ms. Nataly without “being mushy.”

“She helped me through a lot of tough times,” Pester reports as he sits beside Ms.
Nataly at her desk. “Whenever I got the chance, I tried to hang around here. We would talk about things that happened and how we can do it better next time.” 

Cruz asks whether he feels he grew up a little over the school year. 

“I hate to admit it,” he says, “but yes.”

According to his teacher, Pester is not the only student who matured with Cruz’s help and encouragement. 

“It’s amazing how intimidating an 11-year-old can be,” Smith says. “At first, Nataly was a little timid, but I’ve seen her overcome that and be able to redirect students from inappropriate behavior. She has come in and helped students trust her, and that’s made a big difference in them and in her.”

Florida International University graduate Nataly Cruz came to Tulsa to work with City Year for the 2014-15 school year. City Year members commit to the program for 11 months and receive training and support in behavior coaching and tutoring for various learning styles. Here, she works with a group of Sequoyah Elementary fifth graders.

 

Helping teachers help students

Another important part of City Year members’ workdays is calling the home of absent students in partner schools. These personal interactions with parents and students have increased attendance throughout the district. 

Raye Nero, the principal of Sequoyah Elementary School, says City Year positively impacted her students and teachers over the 2014-2015 school year. 

“I think teachers sometimes feel the pressure of being the only adult in the room,” she says. “If the teacher has put some structures in place and that City Year person can support them, that’s hugely helpful for the teacher.”

Smith agrees. During the fall 2014 semester, she had 32 students in class. 

“It made a big difference to have Cruz in the room,” she says. “I felt so much better knowing that I wasn’t going to have to stop my lesson every few minutes to deal with some behavioral issue.”

According to Nero, City Year’s biggest impact is the one-on-one mentorship between City Year members and students. 

“When you ask a kid what City Year means to them” academics won’t be the main focus,  Nero says. “It is more about the relationships they built with positive role models. And that is lasting.” 

If the origami swans on her desk are any indication, Ms. Nataly was well loved by her students. The graceful gifts of folded paper silently agree with Pester’s analysis: “One person makes a really big difference. It’s amazing how far we’ve come just by being together.”

 


At Clinton Middle School 

19 out of 29 English Language Arts students* in grades 7 and 8 saw a score increase during the school year.

At Eugene Field Elementary 

English Language Arts students* in grades 3-6 started the year with only 3 percent at a proficient level, growing to 43 percent proficiency by the end of the year. Those scoring below basic levels dropped from 37 percent at the start of the year to 16 percent by year’s end.

At Sequoyah Elementary 

30 out of 35 English Language Arts students* in grades 3-6 saw a score increase during the school year.

 

*Students identified by teachers and City Year members as needing support


Source: City Year Tulsa

 

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October 2019

The Brush Creek Bazaar is South Tulsa's largest and longest running Arts and Crafts Festival. This year we will host over 70+ vendors, featuring handcrafted items from all around the region. We...

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Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
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More information

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Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

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Telephone: 580-317-8470
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Telephone: 918-272-2281

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Telephone: 918-289-0330
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Cost: $15

Where:
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
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Cost: $1,250

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Southern Hills Country Club
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Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
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Sponsor: TU College of Law
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Cost: 109

Where:
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TULSA, OK  74107
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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Cost: 0.00

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Cost: $8 for ages 13+, $4 for ages 3-12. Children 2 and under are free.

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3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma  with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and fun...

Cost: $10 at the gate or $7 in advance for adults. Children 12 and under are FREE.

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
Contact Name: Zachary Johnston
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
Website »

More information

Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
Website »

More information

Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
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2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
View map »


Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
Website »

More information

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Cost: $0

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
2445 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

More information

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Cost: free

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society
2445 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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For the first time in 10 years, we will hear new music and get a new tour from three-time GRAMMY® Nominated, American Music Award and Dove Award winning recording artists Avalon. The group will...

Cost: $24.50-$75.00

Where:
Owasso First Assembly
9341 N. 129th E. Ave.
Owasso, OK  74055
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Sponsor: Compassion Live
Telephone: 877-234-3847
Contact Name: Carol
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Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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Signature Symphony at TCC celebrates the work of the late Ernie Fields, a Tulsa icon who had a career as a bandleader and trombonist. Fields’ music developed at a time when R&B, swing,...

Cost: $36 - $58

Where:
VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK  74133-4513
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Sponsor: Signature Symphony at TCC
Telephone: 918-595-7768
Contact Name: Tabitha Littlefield
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Signature Symphony at TCC celebrates the work of the late Ernie Fields, a Tulsa icon who had a career as a bandleader and trombonist. Fields’ music developed at a time when R&B, swing,...

Cost: $36 - $58

Where:
VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK  74133-4513
View map »


Sponsor: Signature Symphony at TCC
Telephone: 918-595-7768
Contact Name: Tabitha Littlefield
Website »

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The annual US National Arabian & Half Arabian Horse Show returns to Tulsa. You will be able to see over 1700 Arabian and Half Arabian horses competing in many divisions, including Breeding/In Hand...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Tulsa State Fairgrounds
4145 E 21st St,
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
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Nimrod Journal will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers on Saturday, October 19th, at The University of Tulsa. The conference will feature workshops on fiction, poetry,...

Cost: $10-70

Where:
Allen Chapman Student Union
440 S Gary Ave
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
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Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers at The University of Tulsa on October 19th, 2019.   The Conference offers the...

Cost: $10-$70

Where:
TU's Allen Chapman Student Union
440 S. Gary Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma  with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and fun...

Cost: $10 at the gate or $7 in advance for adults. Children 12 and under are FREE.

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
Contact Name: Zachary Johnston
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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
Hugo, OK  74743
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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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The Karbach Games and Competitions Arena becomes our own center of the universe Saturday at 2:00 PM for true fans of German bier. Why? Because it is ground zero for the Linde Oktoberfest Bavarian...

Cost: $40

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 South Jackson Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: River Parks
Contact Name: Ryan Howell

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Folk Salad Radio Show celebrates its 20th anniversary with a potluck meal followed by a concert featuring Grammy-nominated singer songwriter John Fullbright and several other Tulsa musicians on...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Stone Church
4225 W. Fifth St.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Folk Salad Radio Show
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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
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Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Join us for Nimrod Write Night, the opening event of our Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers weekend, on Friday, October 18th, at the Tulsa Historical Society, 6:30 p.m. Write Night is...

Cost: free

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society
2445 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

More information

Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

Flashes of vivid colors, laughter, dancers whirling around keeping pace with the energetic music, more laughter……this is what you will experience at Guthrie Green this Saturday,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: SAPAF
Telephone: 918-665-6419
Contact Name: Mohan Kelkar
Website »

More information

Signature Symphony at TCC celebrates the work of the late Ernie Fields, a Tulsa icon who had a career as a bandleader and trombonist. Fields’ music developed at a time when R&B, swing,...

Cost: $36 - $58

Where:
VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK  74133-4513
View map »


Sponsor: Signature Symphony at TCC
Telephone: 918-595-7768
Contact Name: Tabitha Littlefield
Website »

More information

Tulsa in Harmony is a congregation of community choirs, lending their voices in one accord. They sing of their hopes and their faith and aspirations of a more unified community and a more unified...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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What's New


3.06: Representing District 73 - Regina Goodwin

A conversation with the state representative about issues in her district, plus what it's like being a Democrat in the state legislature. Plus Tulsa Architect Foundation's Amanda DeCort on the Blue Dome District and new music from Count Tutu.

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Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Oct. 13

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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CLIFFDIVER on mental health, Tulsa and their new music

A Q&A with the Tulsa band that describes its sound as "Elevator Emo Pop"

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Oklahoma Best-Sellers: Oct. 6

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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Henna Roso on food insecurity and songwriting

Members of the Tulsa funk, jazz band discuss their new album and what drives them

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