MetroFamily Magazine Jan-Feb 2021

Page 1


100 Years Later Teaching kids about the Tulsa Race Massacre

Travel Trend Plan a rejuvenating Momcation

The Future of Education Annual Education Guide PLUS: State testing in 2021 & Teachers talk virtual school

Please join us at our new

Performing Arts Center!

New Performing Arts Center!

2241 NW 178th OKC, 405-348-3377

Now offering dance, theater, all boys classes, acro and much more!



On Exhibit February 12 – May 9

The Spiro Mounds are one of the United States’ most important ancient Native American sites, as well as an archaeological find unmatched in modern times. The first major presentation on the Spiro Mounds ever undertaken by a museum, this exhibition is the first, and possibly last, time these artifacts will be reunited from various collections across the country.

Check out Kids & Family Programming Kids Takeover The Cowboy: Spiro Scratch Art: Decorations for Another World* March 6 • 10:00 a.m. - Noon

Using Spiro iconography as inspiration, scratch your own designs into a variety of objects. Enjoy storytime at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Spring Break Drop-In Activities*

March 15 - 19 • 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Spiro Mounds were full of pottery, woven textiles, incised shells, beaded clothing and many more examples of early Native American art and craftsmanship. During Spring Break, students can try their hand at making similar make-and-take crafts.

After Spring Break Drop-in Activities, head outside to visit Liichokoshkomo’ to explore the intertribal village.

*Free for members or with Museum admission. Activities available while supplies last. 1700 Northeast 63rd Street • Oklahoma City, OK 73111 •

Engraved shell medicine cup with depiction of Birdman. By Dan Townsend. Muscogee/Cherokee. 2017. Marine shell. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 2017.13.



Features 14 Annual Education Guide

Programs, partnerships and people making a difference

On the cover

24 The Trouble with State Testing

Education leaders talk 2021 possibilities

34 STEAM Guide

Kid programs in OKC

40 100 Years Later

Teaching kids about the Tulsa Race Massacre

48 Get Moving!

Train for a family run or bike ride

52 Healthy Co-parenting Strategies

Moving forward as a family after separation or divorce

100 Years Later page 40


The Future of Education pages 14, 20 & 24 Momcation page 58

Departments 10 Local Family Fun

New in extracurriculars: esports

20 Real Parents of the Metro

Daughty duo educates the future

38 Super Kids of the Metro Out-of-this-world teens experiment with NASA

44 Calendar of Events

At-home activities, virtual programs and in-person events for #okcfamilyfun

56 Family Mental Wellness

Prioritizing self-care in the new year

58 Exploring Oklahoma & Beyond Travel trend: Take a Momcation!









Bye 2020! I mean, Happy


New Year!

I don’t know about you, but I learned a lot about myself in 2020. Something about being faced with challenges I never even imagined (parenting and teaching kids during a pandemic being at the top of my list) forced a hard look at both my positive and not-sopositive characteristics and behaviors. I found myself leaning in to self-assessment and uncomfortable conversations.


Sarah Taylor

Managing Editor Erin Page

Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo

Contributing Writers Kristy Blosch George Lang Debbie Murnan Dr. Tamecca Rogers

Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin

Art Director Stacy Noakes

Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder

Director of Events Marissa Raglin



And I watched as a lot of people around me went through similar processes. 2020 highlighted some of the most broken parts of our society, community and ourselves, but it also allowed us to see how we can change for the better. Perhaps most notably for me has been watching how our education system, our teachers, administrators and support staff continue to pivot, try new things, take on even more and hold fast to an attitude of never giving up on their students’ futures. In this issue, our Annual Education Guide, we are championing these superheroes, like Danielle and Andre Daughty, our Real Parents of the Metro, who are education professionals


looking toward how the experiences of 2020 can improve our future education system. From virtual school to race equity and socialemotional supports, be inspired by their vision on page 20. And check out our Raising OKC Kids podcast with this dynamic duo as we dive deeper into the issues closest to their hearts. As we move into a new year, I hope you’ll join me in adopting an attitude like the Daughtys ‌ taking what we learned from last year to discover how we can continue to grow and change for the better this year. With hope,

Erin Page Managing Editor

New in 2021! Did you notice this issue is thicker than usual? New this year, we’ll be printing bimonthly issues. Look for our next issue in March!

Dana Price Laura Beam

Office Manager Andrea Shanks

Contact us

318 NW 13th St, Ste 101 OKC OK 73103 Phone: 405-601-2081 MetroFamily Magazine is published monthly. Copyright 2019 by Inprint Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Inprint Publishing, Inc. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Circulation audited by

Proud member of

This Month’s Cover Warren embodies joy and is adept at making others smile and laugh. He is crazy about football, soccer, music, reading (perfect fit for his photo shoot at the NW Library!) and playing outdoors. Warren is a big fan of his Oklahoma State Cowboys, Pistol Pete and Monster Jam and he loves spotting airplanes in the sky. Warren has four older siblings and is the son of Brittany and Robert. He attends preschool at KingsGate Child Development Center. Warren’s favorite place to visit in the metro is the OKC Zoo.

Also a member of Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Moore Chamber of Commerce




Make it a

healthy, happy

NEW YEAR Find ideas for nutritious dinners, ways to support your family’s healthy immune systems, lunch ideas for kids, creative ways to involve kids in meal prep, recipes everyone will love and more at Plus, get ideas for a family feast to celebrate Valentine’s Day together at valentines-family-meal.

Bored kids? We’ve got the remedy! Whether it’s frigid temps or the pesky pandemic that’s got your family spending more time indoors, our list of 40 boredom busters will help keep kid bickering at bay. Find ideas from virtual tours and exercise activities to crafts and recipes at metrofamilymagazine. com/at-home-boredom-busters.

Use our Searchable Education Guide If you are looking for local private schools, charter schools, online schools, preschool programs, field trip opportunities, tutors or educational enrichment opportunities, we’ve got a guide for that. Find our searchable Education Guide, updated throughout the year, at education-guide.


Save the date to celebrate

Awesome Moms!

Our annual Awesome Moms Contest is coming up Jan. 15 through Feb. 28, and we want to hear about the inspirational moms, grandmas and mother figures in your life. Your nominee will be eligible to win fantastic prizes from local retailers like the Wyndham Grand Hotel and The Spa at 10 North in downtown OKC, udånder, The Black Scintilla, Redrock. Neighborhood Jam, Mama Roja, Hefner Grill and Upper Crust. The winner and two finalists will be featured in an issue of MetroFamily. Starting Jan. 15, submit your written nomination of 250 words or less and a photo of your nominee at Nominations must be received by Feb. 28. PLUS, stay tuned for our brand new contest celebrating dads, coming in March! BA_PrintAds_MFM_Half_7.375x4.75_BleedMarks.pdf












Beaux Arts at 75

We're open with limited capacity! Reserve your timed ticket today.

Leon Kroll (American, 1884–1974) Composition in Two Figures (detail), 1958, Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Museum purchase from the Beaux Arts Society Fund for Acquisitions, 1968.015




Frugal family fun

in OKC

If your new year’s resolutions include sticking to a family budget, you can still enjoy plenty of #okcfamilyfun this winter. Check out our list of 50 Things to do Under $5 at Plus, don’t miss our monthly list of the best FREE fun for families in OKC at best-of-the-month.

Coming next on

Raising OKC Kids Listen in every Tuesday as we release a new podcast conversation about parenting issues with local experts. In January we’re talking about the future of virtual school and race equity in schools with educators and parents Danielle and Andre Daughty, alternatives to state testing with Oklahoma’s 2020 teacher of the year Jena Nelson and family immunity-boosting practices with nutritionist and mom Umo Callins. Watch at or listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or Stitcher.





sell. buy. repeat. 13801 N. PENNSYLVANIA AVE N. OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 73134 405-286-3114 | ONCEUPONACHILDOKCNORTH.COM

Current session runs through Mar. 13 Ages 18 months-9 years learn soccer skills at their age-appropriate level, all with an emphasis on fun. 4520 Old Farm Road, OKC (west of Meridian, south of 122nd)


FREE trial class!

And one more free class upon registration. Just mention this ad!

Paint some memories 10-12 and 1-3 Tuesday thru Saturday Call ahead or reserve your table online.

Saturday, March 6 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Free Youth Fishing Event

To go kits are all inclusive

Dale Robertson Center Pond 1200 Lakeshore Dr. Yukon, Oklahoma Don’t forget to bring your fishing pole and bait! Door Prizes, raffles, prize for Golden Trout and prizes for catching the smallest and largest fish and other fishing related activities! Fish Cleaning $1 per fish. Fishing License required for those 16 and over, but no trout stamp needed. Daily limit of 6 and 1 pole per person. Concessions available. Adults must be accompanied by a child. 405.350.8937 | 405.354.8442


405-340-PLUG •




MORE THAN A HOBBY A different side of gaming


Battles over screen time, debates about violence in video games, online bullying and concerns about health impacts mean gaming is often seen as a youthful indulgence filled with more pitfalls than benefits, but high schools and colleges around the country are utilizing the emerging world of esports as a positive outlet to engage students in new ways. Paul Vaughan, the esports team coordinator and coach for Oklahoma City University, says programs like the one at OCU “put competition in the hands of students that aren’t usually engaged.” “Esports is more than playing games in a room alone,” explained Vaughan. “When several people engage and solve a problem together, it’s a powerful way for a team to bond and grow together.” Jeff Bishop, a career and technology teacher at Putnam City West High School, has been a firsthand witness to this concept. “My students flourish in this environment,” shared Bishop. “The kids have a common space with a common goal and a sense of belonging that maybe they didn’t have before. They all have their roles and a new place to express their leadership abilities.”


What are esports? Bishop said the video gaming industry has shifted from an individualized game experience to competition platforms that have resulted in a new genre of team play. Vaughan likened the early esports world to the Wild West but says now there are structured leagues and governing associations. “When I got started in college, there were 10 or 20 universities with varsity programs and as of last year there were well over 200,” said Vaughan. “The growth has been explosive.” The Oklahoma eSports League (OESL), in which all three high schools in the Putnam City School District participate, has an extensive code of conduct, requirements and rules teams must follow. The Oklahoma Association of Collegiate Esports (OACE) held its inaugural meeting in September and planned its first all-state tournament this past fall.

“To compare esports to a traditional sport, it compares well to track and field where tournaments could have several different types of competitions or games in our case,” explained Vaughan. Teams of varying sizes compete in games such as Super Smash Brothers, Rocket League, Overwatch, League of Legends, Madden and Clash Royale. Tournaments and school programs vary based on interest. Bishop said his program at PC West is comprised of newcomers and life-long gamers, and both boys and girls play together on the same teams. “We are sort of reversing social norms,” said Bishop. Corey Boggs, the executive director of information technology for the Putnam City School District, sees value in the opportunity to reach students for whom traditional athletics aren’t a fit. “Esports opens up a world of inclusion to so many different students who may never be competition athletes, to those who may have physical restrictions, or maybe they just have a strong personal interest,” said Boggs. “It is so exciting to see the diverse group of students esports attracts. This is a great opportunity to reach an entirely different group of students and to make them part of something bigger. Esports is one of the fastest growing markets out there.”

A place to belong and excel Getting kids excited about going to school is not usually an easy task, especially as time stretches past the wide-eyed early years of elementary school. By the time high school comes, school is more of a have-to than a get-to. So when one of Bishop’s students returned to school after a break remarking “it was good to be home,” Bishop knew the program was paying off. “The district went full tilt and has given our program a lot of equipment especially built for esports,” said Bishop. “Our chairs, computers and systems are our sports equipment, and if [it were] not for the school’s support, the kids would not be able to play the games like they do.” Even though games are played on a screen, students still have to practice, train and watch film just as other competitive sports participants do to improve their game play. Bishop said his students have elected captains, assigned duties and even worked with younger students to ensure the legacy

of the program continues beyond their time at the school. “It’s just as much of a sport as any other,” said Bishop. “The level of buy-in is really cool. These kids are creating a legacy, a multi-tier approach to hopefully make PC West a powerhouse.” To be eligible to play, students must be in good academic standing, attend practices and adhere to the standards set by the OESL. “I tell my students if you want to represent your school, you have to do it in a wellrounded manner,” said Bishop.

Opportunity Abounds While the esports industry is booming, the industry itself is still relatively young and with that youth comes opportunity. “Esports is about more than just playing games; there are job opportunities,” explained Vaughan. “It’s a young industry and needs everything other sports industries need: coaches, journalists, broadcasters, agents, analysts.” In fact, OCU launched Oklahoma’s first esports degree program, an Esports Management degree. The bachelor of arts degree program includes courses in sports science, broadcasting, sport psychology, advertising, health, media relations and communications. Bishop sees yet another opportunity for his students. He teaches video game design and animation and assures his students that the skills they learn through esports can apply to other areas of the industry. “I use esports to get kids to take my tech classes,” said Bishop. “The reason I can justify writing grants and investing in equipment is it’s a big industry with big opportunity. Esports is wonderful in that it markets other career options that don’t fall on the mindset of a young person. Designers and builders have longer career opportunities. They could compose music for games or create apps like Words for Friends and Farmville. The industry hasn’t fully expanded out into a mature industry yet.”

2021... It’s TIME! Time to learn! It’s time to move forward with hope and jump into 2021 with both feet, inspired by the possibilities a new year brings. Time to watch the ripples of progress that are made when we lift kids up and encourage them to make waves!


Call TODAY for a FREE trial lesson! Exp. 1/31

He pointed to applications that cross into other industries, citing an example of game simulations where doctors could practice difficult or experimental surgeries. Esports is also opening up new scholarship opportunities. “Esports is being adopted in colleges and universities across the country, and there are scholarship opportunities available for good high school players,” confirmed Boggs.



EDMOND | 405.696.7500

10 NW 146th | Edmond, OK 73013 |

Getting started If you think your child might have an interest in esports, Vaughan recommends talking with them about their goals. “If they are interested in playing just for fun, that’s great, but if they are interested in playing competitively there are productive ways to practice,” said Vaughan. “My parents questioned if playing a lot of video games was good for me but if done correctly and safely, it can be.” He encourages parents to acknowledge their child’s goals and to listen to what their child wants to accomplish. “Kids need healthy moderation and balance of course but parents can help create a pipeline so they can engage in a productive and motivated way,” said Vaughan.


Thank you

Bishop encourages parents to set expectations and make sure kids are following proper social decorum because sportsmanship is important.

Bishop. “If someone is a jerk in a game, no one is going to want to hang out with them at the end of the game either.”

“In esports, you are expected to maintain a professional vocabulary or you will be disqualified from the tournament,” explained

The 2020-2021 OESL season starts Jan. 19 with state championships usually held in April or May.

“Even though we are technology-based, one of the important parts of esports is interacting and competing in person,” said Vaughan. “COVID has been an obstacle but we are working to keep our students safe during this pandemic.”

Thank you

Cookies are coming. Creating JOY in every bite.

learning tree thanks you for shopping local during the holidays!

We put our into it. 405.721.8807


learning tree Find all the best toys, books & games for birth to teens. 7638 N. Western, OKC 405-848-1415


Awesome Moms Contest Nominate a mother figure you love! The winner & two finalists will be featured in our May/June issue and receive awesome prizes!

Nominations open Jan. 15 - Feb. 28

Annual Education Guide Among the countless disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, one of the most difficult for parents has been to the entire education system. Administrators, educators, parents and students have all had to pivot, adapt to new ways to educate and learn, school from home and find new ways to engage in social and educational development. So much to deal with!


This year’s education guide highlights both the hardships and silver linings this pandemic has brought onto our education system and features the programs and partnerships making a positive difference in the lives of metro students. Join us in thanking a teacher (and giving yourself as a parent a pat on the back, too!) and read on for more information about the future of education.




Poetry & Chill Kids

encourages self-love and expression Artist, poet and musician Gregory McPherson (who goes by Gregory II) launched Poetry and Chill in 2017 to have a platform for he and other local artists to share their work through open mic nights and workshops. When high school kids began attending open mic events, Gregory II realized there was a need for metro kids to have a similar opportunity for self-expression. He met Wayland Cubit, who ran for Oklahoma County sheriff in 2020 and leads FACT, an officer-led mentoring program for at-risk youth, who asked Gregory II if he’d be willing to lead a workshop with the FACT youth. Gregory II began working with 15 kids at Northeast Community Center in an after-school program focused on literacy and writing skills and encouraging selfexpression. Soon, teachers and schools were requesting workshops, and Poetry and Chill Kids was founded in late 2018, becoming a nonprofit organization in early 2020. From discussing poetry and hip hop to breaking down rap lyrics and popular movies, Poetry and Chill gives kids a safe space to explore their feelings and opinions. Workshop leaders are all volunteers, and a licensed professional therapist attends all sessions to help identify when kids need ongoing support. “It can be hard to get kids talking and they have stuff on their minds that they’re not

letting out,” said Gregory II. “But now we get to see what is going on with them. These workshops allow kids to be themselves and have group discussions.” Now Gregory II sees more than 300 students a week in area schools across many districts and provides Thursday night workshops, which have transitioned from in person to virtual and are open to any middle or high school students. Both have provided opportunities for students and their teachers to connect on a deeper level. “We are bridging the gap between teachers and students, humanizing teachers and [showing teachers] what kids who are acting up every day are going through,” said Gregory II. He also works with area organizations like the juvenile detention center, Sisu Youth Services, Pivot and others to serve at-risk youth. Prior to the pandemic, a college tour program took the Poetry and Chill team to more than 30 colleges and universities, providing live music and a safe place for expression. The organization also offers free lesson plans for elementary through high school kids to explore topics like self-love, culture appreciation, creating poetry, writing rap songs and journaling. Learn how your kids can get involved and how you can support the organization at




Metro mother daughter team creates

educational language boxes Mindy Nix and Susanne Huffman founded Oui & Sí to give kids a hands-on introduction to learning French and Spanish. The mother daughter duo are French language professors in the metro, Nix at Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Christian universities and Huffman at the University of Central Oklahoma, and both tutor in French and Spanish. Huffman also teaches kindergarten and preschool French. Together they carefully curate Oui and Sí French and Spanish learning boxes for open-ended play and instruction for ages 3 through 7. Each themed box comes with a variety of high-quality tactile objects, like letter tiles, figurines, objects from nature, flash cards, dominoes and dice, to promote interactive learning of numbers, letters, shapes and language in either French or Spanish. A QR code can be scanned to reveal a lesson plan that focuses on French or Spanish vocabulary,

new phrases and fun games. Box themes include space, construction, dinosaurs and farm fun, as well as holidays, and rather than just a focus on memorizing pertinent words, the learning is immersive to include conversation, sentence structure and more. Oui and Sí officially incorporated during the pandemic, and the word-of-mouth response has surprised Nix as parents are seeking supplemental learning for kids at home. While learning languages at a young age is beneficial, it’s never too late to learn, and Nix has enjoyed hearing about parents learning right along with their kids using their boxes. “Teaching has always been a passion for Susanne and I, especially teaching languages,” said Nix. “So, being able to reach more people, especially during these times, has been very gratifying.” Next, the founders of Oui and Sí are working

on resources for kids through age 12. Boxes can be purchased individually or as a subscription at or local retailers Learning Tree and Plenty Mercantile.

Meet the Directors We asked the co-founders and directors of Keystone Adventure School and Farm in north Edmond, John Duhon and Jenny Dunning, how they started their unique, hands-on, mostly outdoor school. Tell us about your background in education and what led you to establish this unique school.


John: I received my degree in Elementary Education and have been at Keystone since the words, “Let’s make a school” were first uttered. Jenny: I studied Language Arts, focusing on Cognitive Theory and Learning Disabilities and founded Keystone with John in 2004. I always felt like school could be done better, differently, with love of kids and childhood driving the dream. As a mom of six kids who all learned differently and who needed to be unschooled every day when they came home from school, I wanted to restore the twinkle in their eyes and the creativity in their hearts. I found pathways for each child that celebrated their learning styles by capitalizing on their interests, strengths with art, lots of play, hands-on, experiential and messy learning. John was


one of my children’s first grade teacher and he empowered her to be exactly who she is, embraced her learning and changed our family’s lives forever. We partnered and asked, “Why can’t school be fun for every kid, every day?” We realized we would have to make a school to make that dream come true. So we did.



How has the pandemic changed things at your school? John: Keystone believes in protecting its students, staff, families and community from the spread of COVID-19. We have implemented our own data-based metric to decide when we are in-person or online virtually. Although our metric has kept us in distance learning for a good portion of our year, we do offer daily, safe, outdoor time to our students each week where they can socialize with their classmates distantly and experience our amazing outdoor campus. It is not what we want, but it is safe enough that when other schools have shifted to fully online learning, we can continue being on campus safely. Find more information about their educational philosophy and how they are morphing during the pandemic at PAID ADVERTISEMENT

19201 N Western Ave, Edmond, 405-216-5400

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FREE digital transcripts now available for Oklahoma students Oklahoma students and educators now have free access to electronic academic records, thanks to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s partnership with a digital credential service called Parchment. The digital credential service will deliver the Oklahoma e-Transcript Initiative, through which e-transcripts can be requested, verified and shared through a single online platform.

“The Oklahoma e-Transcript Initiative provides a consistent, uniform and streamlined way to access academic records,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. "This process makes it less cumbersome to provide documentation for school transfers and more efficient to apply for postsecondary opportunities.” The platform allows for the secure electronic exchange of academic transcripts among school districts, colleges, universities and the Oklahoma CareerTech system, simplifying the college application and admission process and removing barriers for many students to pursue higher education. Students can request transcripts and other supporting admission documents to be sent electronically to a majority of U.S. college and university admissions offices.

Westminster School admits students of any race, color, religion, or national and ethnic origin. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, or national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, financial aid program, athletic, and other school-administered activities.

For more information, contact Rebecca Skarky, Director of Admissions, at 405-524-0631 ext. 123

“The e-transcript provides the opportunity for students’ educational experiences to be expressed on one platform,” said Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “As students earn industry credentials, concurrent enrollment and certifications, they can now be accurately reflected on a student's transcript. This is a substantial advancement for Oklahoma education and would not be possible without the continued crosscollaboration of all our agencies.” Students and parents must access the program through participating schools or districts. Families can work with school counselors to encourage schools to sign up for the service. Find out more at about/office-of-college-and-career-readiness.

Pre-K through eighth grade 600 NW 44 Street, OKC 405-524-0631




LITTLE READ WAGON helps close literacy gap in the metro

A retired special education teacher, Lisa Gerard moved to the metro four years ago and began volunteering with local organization Laundry Love, which helps cover the costs of washing and drying clothes at area laundromats for families. Gerard quickly noticed children waiting for their families’ laundry to be done without much to do, so she began providing a story time to the kids and then brought a wagon full of books along so the children could take home a book of their own. In July 2020, Little Read Wagon was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Gerard’s impact has continued to expand, partnering with the Northeast Resource Center to collect books to place back in the hands of community members and attending several events at

Nappy Roots bookstore to pass out free books to kids.

parents and grandparents to choose books to spark their children and grandchildren’s excitement about reading.

“Our goal is to increase book and literacy access to underserved and marginalized populations,” said Gerard. “We also want to provide a good selection of books by and representing people of color.” The organization’s Look for a Book program hides children’s books in metro parks and public spaces for kids to find, carefully protected from the weather. Gerard has also cultivated relationships with organizations serving the metro homeless population, providing them books, and she works with

It’s not just what they know. It’s who they become.

“As a former teacher, I try to help people choose books that their little ones will enjoy and to educate parents and caregivers about the benefits of book ownership and reading aloud,” said Gerard. “I love seeing people excited to read and learn, whatever age they are.” Learn more about the organization’s programs and how you can help at facebook. com/LittleReadWagon.

Primrose School of Edmond 405.285.6787


Primrose School of Southwest Oklahoma City 405.793.6000

Call for a tour. Each Primrose school is a privately owned and operated franchise. Primrose Schools is a registered trademark of Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. ©2020 Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. All rights reserved.


Meet the Superintendent

We recently asked Superintendent Bart Banfield of EPIC Charter Schools about this unique virtual school, Epic’s Learning Fund program and the future of education. What is your background and how long have you been at EPIC Schools? Prior to becoming superintendent in 2019, I served as the assistant superintendent of instruction for EPIC Charter Schools, a position I’d held since 2014. I have been a public educator for more than 20 years. I have also coached girls’ basketball and was a history teacher at Eufaula High School. Later, I served as the superintendent of Stidham Public Schools where I earned the distinction of becoming Oklahoma’s youngest public school superintendent at the age of 27. I have a master’s degree in education administration from East Central University in Ada. I recently published a book available on Amazon called Virtual Leadership: The Essential Principles for Remote Work.

What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at EPIC? My educational philosophy is the same as EPIC’s: school can be different. It’s more than just our motto, it’s a mindset that sits at the very core of our educational model. More than a third of EPIC’s students come to us because they were bullied or faced school safety issues. Others were seeking more flexibility and autonomy in how or when they learn. The fact is no student is the same, so the mindset that one size fits all when it comes to education is outdated and unaligned with the realities of 21st-century learning needs.

What has changed in education the most since you started? What are the current trends and where is education going? One of the things that I connected with very early in my educational career was distance learning and the role that technology can play in educating a student. Distance learning has shaped how and where students are able to learn and gives them more opportunities to grow academically. We’ve seen the need for distance learning play itself out in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. I predict distance learning will continue to play a significant role in the education of our children even after the pandemic has subsided. For example, in public education, technology and artificial intelligence will enable PAID ADVERTISEMENT

schools to individualize the educational experience of every child who walks through their doors. I know this to be true because that’s exactly what we’re doing at EPIC. By using adaptive technologies and predictive algorithms, we can personalize the educational experience of each student to meet them where they are in terms of skill level and academic ability.

What makes EPIC stand out among all the education choices parents have? The thing that makes EPIC stand out the most is the empowerment we provide our families. Whether it’s choosing from our extensive library of curriculum choices, tapping into the Learning Fund for equipment or extracurricular options (like ballet or horseback riding) or working at your own pace, the options really are endless. EPIC is unique in that we allow our students and families the option to tailor their educations to meet their needs and fit their lives.

Tell us more about the Learning Fund. Upon enrollment, each student is provided a $1,000 virtual credit that they can spend on technology, core curriculum, supplemental curriculum and extracurricular activities. No money ever exchanges hands. Families choose from a list of approved vendors who bill EPIC in exchange for services provided. There is no other offering like the EPIC Learning Fund in any other public school system in the state and it has allowed a high level of freedom, flexibility and customization to each of our families.





As the Oklahoma City community rang in 2020 one year ago, we had no idea how our education system would be turned on its head as we navigated life in a pandemic. While the burden on all families in the metro has been great, teachers have navigated extra challenges as they pivoted to teach in ways they had never considered previously, all while many also care for their own families. BY ERIN PAGE. PHOTOS PROVIDED.


Spouses, parents and educators Danielle and Andre Daughty have chosen the mantra “grace and space” during these unprecedented times, reminding each other and their two high school kids that each of them, and everyone around them, has never experienced anything like this pandemic. “All parents are trying to figure out how to work from home and get kids online for school,” said Andre, who says wife Danielle is a beautiful example of offering grace and space as she’s put in longer hours than ever educating Edmond second graders both online and in person and checking in regularly with their parents. While none of the Daughtys has ventured far from their Edmond home since March 2020, their visions for the future of education in Oklahoma have soared, both in spite of the pandemic and because of it. From the longterm benefits of virtual school and greater parental involvement in students’ educations to a call for race equity and celebration of diversity, the Daughtys’ forward-thinking vision for the continued advancement of our state’s education system sparks hope and optimism for this new year and beyond.

For the love of teaching

Andre has worked in education for 20 years, earning his undergraduate degree from Langston University and teaching at the elementary and middle school levels. He earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Central Oklahoma, served as an adjunct professor and now works as a consultant and keynote speaker for educators around the nation. Education is a second career for Danielle, who majored in journalism at Langston. Inspired by her husband and kids, Danielle went back to school to earn her master’s degree in early childhood education from UCO and has taught second grade in Edmond for the past seven years. With her school district on an A/B schedule since the fall, Danielle has double the workload creating inperson and virtual lessons, in addition to her teacher team being reduced by half this year. “I love teaching and the kids, but this is a very heavy load this year,” said Danielle. Sometimes Danielle doesn’t get home from work until nearly 7:30 p.m. after finishing her school day and then compiling and uploading lessons for the next. Because Andre has been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic, and because he knows the physical, mental and emotional toll of working as a classroom educator, he tries to keep their home as stress-free as possible for his wife, making sure dinner is ready, their kids have completed virtual school assignments and the house is picked up. “The traditional roles of marriage have never worked for our family anyway,” said Andre. With so much time spent at home and the added anxieties of the pandemic, racial injustice and a polarizing election, self-care has become critical. Andre works out every morning, sets a clear end point for work on weekdays and prioritizes time for just he and Danielle, void of conversation about work. The Daughtys are intent upon teaching their kids the value of self-care, too, with Taco Tuesdays, movie nights, family walks, intentional time away from devices and space to laugh and joke with each other high on their lists. This school year especially Danielle has learned to step away from work over school breaks to focus on her family and herself so she can be recharged to go back to the classroom. “There is a lot of stress on everybody in education,” said Andre. “Burnout is more elevated now, so we all — educators, parents, students and administrators — have to take time for self-care.”

The Daughty kids opted for virtual school for their senior and freshman years, and while it’s been an adjustment all around, Danielle is grateful for Andre’s many years in the education sector to help guide them. The kids were given the option to return to activities like marching band and choir, talking out the pros and cons as a family. “My freshman misses being with her friends and the high school experience, but they both have adjusted well,” said Danielle. “They would rather be safe at home and wait for things to get better.”

“No one is ‘behind’ because as an educator I can always take you from where you are and help to develop you academically.” Danielle Daughty

Open communication is paramount in the Daughty household, especially as they’ve watched the pandemic unfold since that fateful March OKC Thunder game was called off before play began and led to the NBA shutdown. “We have continued to tell them that this isn’t normal,” said Andre, “and we don’t expect them to act like things are normal.” That conversation is ongoing, as are dinnertime discussions about current events, the pandemic’s toll and what they are each reading on their respective social media feeds, and how messages differ based on who they follow. “We want to teach them how to think, not what to think, and this is the perfect season to do it,” said Andre. “We are all pivoting and adjusting to the best of our abilities.”

Looking forward

In many ways, the pandemic has forced educators and administrators to get back to basics, focusing first on student safety and security. “That is the foundation of education,” said Danielle. “If your basic needs aren’t met, there isn’t going to be any learning taking place.”

School districts statewide are trying to focus on students’ safety and security, even with growing pressure to return to “normal.” Districts and administrators have requested Andre present workshops on meeting kids’ social and emotional needs. Many schools are offering free breakfast and lunch programs, and metro nonprofits are stepping up to provide families with food. Danielle and other classroom teachers have implemented regular check-ins with their students’ parents or guardians to ask how the school can provide support. Danielle has excelled at over-communicating with parents during this strange school year, ensuring parents have the information they need to succeed during at-home learning days and reinforcing her mantra of grace. As part of Danielle’s preparation of online lessons, she and her colleagues have created a parent landing page, showing parents how they teach lessons and helping them understand how to navigate the online learning management system. “I feel like this pandemic has opened a lot of parents’ eyes as to what school is, the role of the teacher, role of the parent and role of the students,” said Danielle. “Everybody should be working together as we are building a community of learning rather than just dropping kids off.” Between school closures last spring and varied school schedules in the fall, the concern of students falling behind academically continues to rise among parents, but it’s a concern the Daughtys encourage everyone to let go. “No one is ‘behind’ because as an educator, I can always take you from where you are and help to develop you academically,” said Danielle. Andre adds that because this global pandemic has affected all school-age children in some way, everyone is in the same boat. “There is still an emphasis on academics but in the grand scheme of things, we’d rather students feel safe and secure,” said Andre. “Maybe we’re behind academically, but socially and emotionally, we’re excelling. It all depends on what lens you’re looking through. There will be a great return on this investment when we look back and analyze how our community felt loved, acknowledged and respected during a global pandemic." From their time in classrooms and as parents, the Daughtys know there is great value in parents simply engaging with their kids, teaching life skills or just spending time together. “No matter what level your child is on, parents are their child’s best teacher,” said Danielle. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JAN-FEB 2021


Discover the Power of


While the effects of 2020 on the Daughty family have certainly not been without consequence, the duo is skilled in finding joy, contentment and silver linings. They believe in taking lessons from the situations life presents, and they have found plenty of positive changes to the education system from the pandemic.

In 2021, the future looks bright. Make the most of it by adding one healthy habit to your daily routine. Before you know it, you’ll feel stronger, healthier and more energetic. Get started with one of these activities:

“When school goes back to five days a week, I don’t see teachers going back to business as usual,” said Andre.

Healthy Habit

Drink one more glass of water per day.

Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal.

Andre hopes teachers will continue a focus on mental wellness, like practicing mindfulness exercises and incorporating check-ins with students throughout the day to gauge their emotional health. He also believes the shift to offering virtual learning is a change that should and will stick for most school districts. “There are a lot of students who have blossomed in this style of learning and who have discovered freedoms they didn’t have before,” said Andre. Within their virtual learning mode, the Daughty kids are using the opportunity to prepare for college, learning to self-manage, develop relationships with their teachers and incorporate work, exercise, community service or extracurriculars as time allows. The kids have a set time each day that their work must be turned in but otherwise are free to determine what works best for them. “It’s cool to see them both evolve into this college-career mindset,” said Andre.

For a better night’s sleep, avoid screen time one hour before bed.

Get 30 minutes of physical activity a day — and make sure your kids get 60!

Want more ideas and inspiration?

Andre also sees more college professors teaching the next generation of Oklahoma educators the ins and outs of content management systems for virtual learning, which he believes is another key step in improving the state’s education system overall. When asked what they are proudest of each other for in their respective education careers, both Danielle and Andre point to the other’s work in pushing for race equity in schools and the industry as a whole. Through his consultant work and keynote speaking gigs, virtual for now, Andre reaches educators and organizations around the country, helping them address the issue of equity through culturally-relevant teaching and learning. “Dre is revolutionary,” said Danielle. “He is a voice for taboo subjects in education, things teachers normally wouldn’t talk about with their students or each other, he gives the green light and teaches how to tackle topics without being offensive and also helps educators be aware of how events affect their students and colleagues.”

Danielle carries on those same equity priorities in her classroom. For many of her students, she’s their first Black teacher, and for her Black female students, she can relate to them deeply. Danielle is intent on teaching history from the Indigenous and Black perspective and inspiring other teachers around her to do the same.


“I love that Danielle is unafraid to say let’s teach real history; she’s a trailblazer,” said Andre. “Let’s talk about where history got white-washed, in a developmentallyappropriate setting.” From sharing her culture with her students to encouraging them to do the same and incorporating Black authors into her classroom, Danielle gives a voice to her students and teaches them the beauty to be found in diversity. “Students gain empathy from learning about and understanding other cultures,” said Andre. “When schools become more diverse in their staff, everybody in contact with that school is better for it.”

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Field Trips at the Harn Melessa Gregg, executive director of Harn Homestead, answered these questions about their field trip programs.


MDO, Preschool & Pre-K ages 2mo-5yrs

Learn more about the Early Childhood Program 405-755-3258 • • 14617 N. Penn, OKC


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What kind of field trips do you offer to classes of students and homeschoolers? We offer hands-on activities in a one-room schoolhouse, an original dairy barn and a historic farmhouse. Cost is $10 per student. Reservations can be made through Education Director David Sapper at A limited number of field trip scholarships are available.

What changes have you made to your field trip program because of the pandemic? We created an entirely outdoor program encompassing activities from the farmhouse and barn. We are also currently renting out the schoolhouse to student or homeschool cohorts and providing parents with the educational materials for presentation rather than having staff and volunteers as teachers and docents. The buildings and materials used are then cleaned and sanitized thoroughly prior to the next scheduled group visit.

1721 N Lincoln Blvd, OKC 405-235-4058 PAID ADVERTISEMENT



To TEST or

not to test

Will state testing proceed in 2021? In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached critical mass in the United States, many plans had to fall by the wayside. As concerns grew over nearly every kind of public activity and coronavirus cases began to mount in Oklahoma, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made a necessary call and asked for a waiver for the annual Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) testing just one month before the scheduled statewide exam. BY GEORGE LANG




“Our educators and district leaders need to shift their focus from assessments to essential services, including child nutrition and planning to continue student learning through alternative delivery methods,” Hofmeister said in a March 2020 statement. “Their priority cannot be with assessments that would be of questionable validity in the wake of a global pandemic.” By the time Hofmeister called for the waiver, the reality of home education was settling over Oklahoma teachers, parents and children. Students learned the ins and outs of video conferencing programs like Zoom while teachers looked for innovative ways to engage students in a virtual classroom, but the RSA test would not be part of that process. “It’s a federal requirement that we test students in the grades that we do in Oklahoma,” said Maria Harris, deputy superintendent of assessment and accountability with Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). “The U.S. Department of Education only has the authority to be reactive to something like a pandemic to issue such waivers like they did. And so, because the pandemic hit, they were able to kind of scramble and put out a very automated process for states to waive these federal requirements.”

Every Oklahoma public school student begins the march toward RSA in kindergarten. In grades kindergarten through third, the students are assessed for their reading ability, and those who do not reach grade-level reading ability are given a program of reading instruction (PRI). The child’s progress is monitored throughout the year until they reach grade-level reading. Then in third grade they take the RSA test at the end of the school year. If they fail to pass the test, they can either be retained in third grade, referred to summer academy reading program (SARP) and be promoted on the contingency that it is successfully completed or granted a promotion under an exemption.


“The snapshot of performance in the spring every year that we are federally required to give our students ... for teachers, it's a confirmation of information they already know about their kids,” said Harris. “For parents, it's additional information, and it is valuable information for both the state and for policymakers and for administrators and people like that, but it also is one data point.” According to Oklahoma Policy Institute, research shows that “retained students tend to have worse social-emotional outcomes and are more likely to drop out of school than similar students who are promoted.” The possibility that large numbers of students could be adversely impacted scholastically by the pandemic is concerning to Carrie Coppernoll Jacobs, board member for Oklahoma City Public School District, who believes her district could be facing an increase in its dropout rate after coronavirus lessens its hold.

State testing in 2021

As Oklahoma schools close, open and re-close with rising COVID-19 cases, the RSA test looms once again this spring. Harris said no states, including Oklahoma, have received waivers for the scheduled April 2021 test. What happens next depends largely on President-elect Joseph Biden’s nomination for Secretary of Education. This individual will be tasked with the decision on state testing, and while it is expected that outgoing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ replacement will take a less hardline position on classrooms and testing returning to normal, it is still an open question. It could turn out that 2020 in America’s public school testing will have an asterisk next to it: the year that could not be analyzed. “So this year looks different from any other year since I've been at the state, and I've been there for a little over four years,” said Harris. “We have to think about the interpretation of what this information means and what we can do with this information differently. A lot of times I think people get really anxious or nervous about these state tests at the end of the year because I think that a lot of it has to do with the use and accountability and the way that we think about school level performance.”

Meet the Superintendent We asked Dr. Michelle Keylon, Superintendent/ CEO of Francis Tuttle, about the school including their new campus being built that has an emphasis on entrepreneurship. What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at Francis Tuttle?

I believe we have a responsibility to educate all students but that not all students should be educated in the same way. Students come to us with varying skills, talents, abilities and experiences and they have different goals. We must be able to bring all these factors together to benefit the student. At Francis Tuttle, we create personalized learning plans for all of our students. Because our programs have a career focus, it is much easier to match a student’s learning goal with our offerings. I also believe this increases student engagement and provides an overall better educational experience for the student.

What makes Francis Tuttle stand out among all the educational choices students have?

I believe our reputation for high quality education and experiences sets us apart from other educational choices. Part of our culture is innovation and creativity. We have worked over the years to ensure our place as a leader in career and technical education. We have accomplished this by adding new programs as needed by our community and we have closed those that are no longer needed. We focus on the experience of the students first and foremost. We want them to be completely engaged and gain a sense of confidence, selfworth and belonging and to see Francis Tuttle as their second home.

What is the most unique educational opportunity offered by Francis Tuttle?

We are currently building a new campus in Edmond that will have a focus of entrepreneurship. There will be an option to focus specifically on entrepreneurship or add entrepreneurship curriculum to other programs. For example, if a cosmetology student wants to open their own business, we can offer additional curriculum for the student to complete that will prepare them to be a business owner. This new campus will also have a business incubator, a pre-accelerator program, a product

realization lab and several design thinking studios. This campus will also support problem solving across disciplines. This might include a Biosciences and Medicine Academy student working with an Engineering Academy student to solve a problem. We believe the focus of entrepreneurship and collaboration at this new campus will allow us to innovate the way we educate our students. The campus opens in August 2021.

Rockwell Campus 12777 N Rockwell Ave, OKC 405-717-7799





That nervousness and anxiety comes down to what many parents see as a punitive component of RSA. According to Oklahoma Policy Institute, RSA was enacted 23 years ago as a way to assess reading ability among the state’s third grade students. But in 2011, the state amended RSA to deny so-called “social promotion” to children who did not read at third-grade competency. Before the amendment, the onus for promotion or retention fell to individual school districts, and parents played a significant role in the decision to promote or not to promote. This change created a consternation among many parents with young children facing down the test. A few years ago, Jacobs’ then 8-year-old daughter, who had just completed second grade, started getting anxious about

state testing in July, in the middle of summer. The source of her anxiety was months away. “The first time she expressed to me she was scared she would not be able to go to fourth grade was in July,” said Jacobs. “And she is very on-level. She’s a hard-working kid. She doesn't have special needs or challenges that might prevent her from passing that test. But even though Oklahoma has made it less punitive, kids still perceive it that way. And that anxiety that started in July for a test administered in April did nothing to help her academically. What helped her academically was having a great third grade teacher. I think that puts so much pressure on teachers and I think there's a lot of concern right now about what testing looks like this year.” Harris said this level of palpable anxiety felt by educators, students and parents is a major concern. “We have really worked hard the last few years to help shift that narrative because that should not be the case,” said Harris. “Student instructional needs should be more localized and [considered with] other data and with other information around that student and not that ‘one day, one test.’”

MetroFamily Insiders You asked, we listened


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What happens


“I think that Oklahoma has made a lot of progress on the Reading Sufficiency Act where it’s not as punitive and it becomes much more about collaboration and getting kids support that they need, which is really how to solve the problem,” said Jacobs. “If the issue is that we want to improve literacy with our kiddos, that translates to additional support or literacy, it doesn’t translate to testing and punishing.” Jacobs believes testing should be waived in 2021. In the meantime, she has nothing but praise for teachers who are innovating during every school day, developing new tools for teaching in an abnormal time. “The things that our teachers are doing right now for our kids are exceptional,” said Jacobs. “As a parent you see that up close

and personal because it’s happening in your living room. They are teaching in a brand new way. They are reassuring in a brand new way; they’re building culture in their classrooms virtually. I just can’t believe that right now we aren't taking the position of, ‘What can we do to help everybody survive this school year?’” While Harris is currently operating under the assumption that the RSA tests will go forward in April 2021, she said there are ways in which the data received from the tests can be improved in future school years. “We know that these assessments are given in an equitable way for our students to access the information, and so we know that it is a way that we can actually think about schools across the state and be able to compare performance and things like that,” said Harris. “But we also know in this time we have to really be creative and help schools really engage with the information they already know about these kids.”

Educational Options

at Oklahoma Hall of Fame/Gaylord-Pickens Museum We talked to the education staff at OHOF to find out about their programming available to classes and families. How does the museum teach history? Our museum shares Oklahoma’s story through its people. We are dedicated to helping Oklahoma educators and students have meaningful and enjoyable learning experiences as they are learning about the people who have impacted and shaped our state. For kids, we offer several interactive exhibits at the museum that really bring these stories to life!

What field trip options do you offer? Field trips to our museum are free for all Oklahoma students and teachers and even include fuel stipends. Public and private schools and homeschool groups can register on our website for field trips that meet Oklahoma Academic Standards for grades K-12 and include follow-up activities. Because of the pandemic, we have implemented procedures to make field trips and all museum experiences as safe as possible, including capacity limits, social distancing requirements, frequent cleaning and mask requirements for all staff and visitors.

What virtual options do you provide? Free OHOF Adventures virtual field trips engage students and educators with subjects ranging from astronauts, art and citizenship to engineering and science, while meeting Oklahoma Academic Standards. For those looking for a different option, we have a Pioneer Spirit pop-up exhibit that we can ship to schools, also for free. Find more information about these virtual options at

1400 Classen Dr, OKC 405-235-4458,



Meet the Principal

Mount St. Mary is a Catholic high school serving grades 9-12. We asked long-time principal Talita DeNegri about her educational philosophy, how the pandemic has changed the school and their new services for students with special needs through the Cornerstone Program. What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at MSM? I believe all children can learn and that we, as educators, need to think outside the box to be innovative and inclusive. I know our students appreciate our teachers’ abilities to diversify their curriculum.

What has changed in education the most since you started? What are the current trends and where is education going? The biggest change is technology and the vastness that it brings to the classroom. We can literally bring the outside world into the classroom and that is beautiful. The approach to mentoring our students is also ever changing. It is imperative to nurture students in systemic ways so they can truly learn why they should be servant leaders in our world.


How has the pandemic changed things at MSM? The pandemic has made us more creative, more understanding and more compassionate to the needs of our students. We have seen the need to focus more on the emotional well-being of our students. As a community, we have leaned on each other more and been more patient. It has been beautiful to watch.

What makes MSM stand out among all the education choices parents have? Our mission, our values and the quality of our education provided to students are what sets us apart. We truly are a family, shaping young people who will lead with mercy in our world. Creating servant leaders has always been the heart of our mission since the Sisters of Mercy opened our great school in 1903 and it still is today! We also have great diversity in the education available to a student. We have a robust fine arts program, an awardwinning robotics program, 21 AP classes, 20-plus competitive OSSAA sports teams, a variety of clubs and organizations and our most recent program, the Cornerstone Program. Last year, our graduating seniors earned over $6 million in college scholarships. Everyone can learn and be involved at MSM.

Tell us more about the Cornerstone Program. This new, all-encompassing program at MSM embraces students with a wide range of special needs. We ascribe to the idea that ALL can learn and should be provided the opportunities of an inclusive high school experience! Every program embraces these students and our staff ensures these students are always learning.

How do you engage parents/families in your students’ educations? We utilize parent surveys and we provide weekly communication pieces to our parents. Our parents are equipped with academic tools to be involved in their students’ success. PAID ADVERTISEMENT



2801 S Shartel Ave, OKC 405-631-8865

Meet the Head of School

Find out more about Casady School from Nathan Sheldon, Head of School for the last seven years. What is your background and how long have you been Head of School? My background is in business and finance. Until I came into K-12 education, I would not have guessed this would be the place I would love. However, in my second year at the school, our Headmaster Charlie Britton asked me to teach a section of Algebra I, coach middle division soccer and tennis and be willing to be a student advisor. Before the year was over, I realized my calling was to help kids become their very best selves. I am currently in my 17th year at Casady School, with this being my seventh year as head of school, and I couldn’t think of a better place to be or better colleagues to work alongside.

What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at your school? For me, the hallmark of an excellent education is creating opportunities for students to develop durable skills. I firmly believe that hiring outstanding faculty who understand that student learning should be durable, engaging, authentic, relevant and customized provides the best opportunity for students to be ready for whatever path life takes them down with confidence.

What has changed in education the most since you started? What are the current trends and where is education going? Right now is an inspiring time to be in education. We are learning so much more about the brain now with improvements in medical technology that allow us to better understand what a child’s brain responds to best in teaching pedagogy. Additionally, I believe that with the advent of social media and the immediacy of information, we need to focus more on students’ social-emotional wellness. Academics are important, but at the same time, we must pay attention and not let them become prioritized at the cost of a healthy social-emotional child. We know that children are responding well when the teacher has high rigor but also has high engagement. When these two come together, you will find confident, wellrounded and all-around healthy students.

What makes your school stand out among all the education choices parents have? I think many private and public schools are doing their very best to allow their students to continue learning during the pandemic. For me, what stands out about our school is our faculty. Faculty makes the school and our faculty care deeply about their students and foster a genuine love of learning. During this pandemic, we have hosted a drive-in movie theater event that allowed our students to showcase their robust work in the performing arts for family and friends. Additionally, we have been able to compete in all our athletics, and we have maintained the quality of academics that for nearly 75 years our families have come to expect.

Tell us about your STEM programs. Our STEM programs are impressive. Our small 2A school competes with the 6A schools in Oklahoma through Science Olympiad. We have successfully won state now for at least the last five years and our students have the opportunity to compete nationally. Additionally, we have relationships with schools from other countries that allow our students to better understand the richness of the world around them and prepare them for their college experiences to come.



Our Mission: Sharing History




History continues to be shared at Oklahoma History Center, despite the pandemic. The many new programs that the museum’s education staff have implemented, with the support of several important grants, help continue history education for students across the state. Here’s more about how your family can take advantage of these programs, as provided by Education Director Sarah Dumas. How has the Education Department at OHC morphed to meet the needs of families and kids during the pandemic?


In some cases, we’re expanding programs that already existed and for others, we’ve had to completely re-think programming. For example, thanks to the support of BancFirst, we’ve greatly expanded our Traveling Trunk Program which provides a museum experience to students and teachers unable to visit the museum. Each trunk contains lesson plans, hands-on activities and three-dimensional artifacts for students to see and touch. Trunks also may include DVDs, CDs and related trade books. Each trunk curriculum includes activities appropriate for K–12 students. While social studies are a primary curriculum focus, the trunks also are used by language arts, math, science, physical education, art, music and gifted program teachers. All trunks directly address Oklahoma Academic Standards and correlate with OHC exhibits. These may be reserved for a week at a time and used for small class situations or even shared virtually with the class. Each trunk is thoroughly sanitized between uses.

Institution (SI) Affiliate, the OHC is distributing an activity guide published by the SI targeting virtual teachers, parents and students entitled “Winter from Home.” This guide suggests ways to structure various in-home tasks as educational exercises and learning experiences. In addition, parents can find online videos and movies that are offered to the public through the museum. National History Day, both statewide and nationally, is a competitive event that engages over half a million middle- and high-school students in history-based research. Some students work for a year on their projects for an opportunity to present their best work at this event. Our museum is recognized as the hub for Oklahoma students and the last step before competing nationally. We successfully moved this to a virtual-based competition, thanks to the support of the Ad Astra Foundation. While we look forward to getting back to hosting field trips at some point, we are also excited to provide all of these accessible programs to teachers and students, both now and in the future.

Many of the museum’s educational programs have been modified to online and virtual programs, thanks to the generous support of the Inasmuch Foundation. One example is their living history performances featuring actors in period dress who utilize storytelling, music and dance to portray people and professions from the past as they teach historical lessons. Discover their extensive online programming at Collaborations with other organizations also play a significant role in extending learning opportunities to the public. As a Smithsonian



800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr, OKC 405-522-0791 (field trips)

Meet Trinity’s Division Heads Division Heads Deana Huff, Becky Edmonds and Shelli Thomas have worked together to help settle Trinity’s students into its new location while developing online classroom tools and innovative ways to teach. We recently asked them about Trinity’s educational philosophy, what makes the school stand apart and how they engage families.

Shelli ThomasHead n

isio Lower School Div

Becky Edmonds

Deana Huff

Upper School Divisio

Middle School Division Head

n Head

What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at Trinity?

How do you engage parents/families in your students’ educations?

Trinity’s educational philosophy is to provide a safe, nurturing and encouraging environment for students with learning differences. Our holistic programs focus on academics, spirituality and social skills. Every student comes to Trinity with their own unique learning style. Our educators meet each student where they are and deliver tailored programs that help prepare them to enter the world with knowledge and motivation so they succeed and reach their fullest potentials.

We’re a family at Trinity and we believe that parent feedback is a critical component to ensure students achieve their goals. Like learning differences, each student’s learning style and situation is different. Because of this, we develop a Trinity Individualized Plan with parents to accommodate and modify lessons and social skills. In addition to working together to develop strategies unique to each student’s learning style, we offer multiple opportunities for our families to participate in social, spiritual and athletic activities.

What makes Trinity School stand out among all the education choices parents have? Trinity School offers specialized education plans and tailored instruction delivered by reading therapists and math interventionists every day in a traditional school environment. Our small class sizes and intentionally designed spaces, combined with our unique reading therapy-based curriculum, accommodate students diagnosed with a variety of learning differences including anxiety, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and autism spectrum disorder. We have a team made up of academic specialists, reading therapists, math interventionists and a school counselor who work together with parents to develop a Trinity Individualized Plan for each student that is revisited throughout the year to make sure they are progressing across academic disciplines.

How has the pandemic changed things at Trinity School and how is Trinity School meeting the current needs of your students and families? When we realized we would need to teach remotely, our team developed a process for teaching online and leveraged our use of technology to keep students engaged. While that was effective, we knew our students needed to be at school with our teachers. So, with the safety and health of our staff, students, parents and visitors as our highest priority, we worked to develop a Return to Campus plan to get students back in our building. Our team, students and parents have worked tirelessly to keep our campus safe. Our students are now wearing masks, social distancing and following new lunch and athletic protocols, proving they can do anything!


3200 N Walker, OKC 405-525-5600

Learn about OK A+ Schools Institute Sandra Kent, executive director of Oklahoma A+ Schools Institute at UCO, shares how this organization helps schools, teachers, students and parents integrate art into all learning activities.

What is Oklahoma A+ Schools Institute @ UCO? Oklahoma A+ Schools Institute @ UCO has a vision to create schools that work for everyone, particularly through arts integration. We are dedicated to igniting imagination, creativity and innovation in students, teachers and schools. The primary way we accomplish this is through professional development programs for educators and schools that encourage effective arts integration teaching methods. Public, private and charter schools can apply to become an Oklahoma A+ School and, once accepted, these schools are provided with three years of training to help teachers learn to integrate the arts and collaborate across disciplines and even grade levels to enhance the engagement and learning of the entire school. Research has shown that Oklahoma A+ School sites on average show improvement in academics and attendance as well as creating engaging, joyful learning environments.


Here’s an example of how the arts are integrated across curriculum areas in our network schools: Students would read the book Three Little Pigs and then create a diagram of each of the pigs’ homes identifying the strengths and weaknesses in each. Then students might build structures and test them using a fan to simulate “wind” to bring in science principles. All of this is integrated very intentionally so it is seamless and connected.

What can parents do to encourage their child’s school to learn more? And how can parents and homeschoolers get directly involved with their children and arts integration? First, if parents believe the arts and creativity are important to learning, we encourage them to follow us on Facebook, visit our website and start sharing information with their teachers and principals. A really exciting part of the OKA+ Network is that it is provided at no cost to member schools – that is a value of over $85,000 in the first three years of support – making it easy for parents to encourage schools to explore the option. While the OKA+ Schools Network is our premiere project, we do have other opportunities that allow for more direct access for students and parents, such as arts integrated workshops that a parent might want to participate in or our GreA+ Boeing STEAM Challenge videos for students, available on our website. We also have a newly-launched subscription box that promotes arts integrated learning projects for home. The SAIL (Simply Arts Integrated Learning) Box is a subscription program with a monthly box that features a concept connecting to multiple standards and topics at every grade level, PK through 5th. Integrating arts with topics and standards is proven to increase comprehension and retention. By expanding the ways in which children think, process and learn, students gain a more rounded understanding that encourages them to think more deeply and apply and analyze knowledge. Parents can find more information at



Pamela Dockter Head of School

Meet the Head of School Pamela Dockter, head of school for St. Mary’s Episcopal School in north Edmond, has experienced many areas of change in education since she began her career in 1981, with the last eight years being at St. Mary's. We recently asked her about those changes, her education philosophy and what makes this school stand apart from other education choices in the metro area.

St. Mary’s Episcopal School 505 E Covell Rd, Edmond 405-341-9541 PAID ADVERTISEMENT

What is your philosophy about education? Students are the most important members of any school community. The nature and quality of learning experiences must be exemplary, inclusive and joyful for the students. Staff members must establish high expectations for all their students, then provide the necessary instruction and guidance to help students achieve their goals. I believe education is for the whole child: mind, body and spirit.

What changes have you seen in education during your career? For one thing, students used to start school at age 5 or 6; now formal education starts much younger, at about age 2 1/2. No longer are classrooms filled with desks in straight rows with a teacher at the front of the classroom. And teachers are now not having to follow a curriculum that literally gave an exact script to teachers. Before, when teachers had to follow this strict curriculum, there was no room for creativity, utilizing teachable moments and re-teaching. When I started, the focus was purely on academics, with no consideration of social or emotional learning or moral growth. Now in the Information Age, there is an emphasis on computers in the classrooms and in labs. Our students must be digital citizens, using technology and the internet effectively and there is an entire emphasis on programs like STEAM, robotics and coding.

What makes St. Mary’s a quality choice for students and their families? Our emphasis with students is on fostering life-long learning and academic success, with students expected to think critically, demonstrate good character, communicate effectively and collaborate with their classmates. Class size is intentionally very low, from six students per teacher for the youngest students and 18 per teacher from 2nd through 5th grades, allowing for more one-on-one attention and meaningful interactions. Instruction is grounded in the core subjects but hands-on activities and real-life examples make those subjects more meaningful. The curriculum we use is generally about a year ahead of public school curriculum and we also offer afterschool programs for students, including clubs such as chess, tumbling, art and French. Our families are very involved and it’s very much a team effort between teachers, students and parents. Finally, our 51-acre campus environment is a huge asset and includes athletic fields, walking trails, an engineering garden and state-ofthe-art playgrounds.

What makes you most proud to be the head of school at St. Mary’s? I have the privilege of seeing our students come in at a very early age, some at just 2 1/2, watching them blossom and grow, following their talents and interests, until they are graduating 5th graders who have the tools to be successful and are just allaround good people. Being a part of that transformation is incredible. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JAN-FEB 2021


Get your Geek on! Enjoy STEAM opportunities across the metro Almost any discussion about the future of education includes the importance of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and the need to introduce STEAM subjects at an early age. The metro area abounds with STEAM opportunities for learning and various programs for kids. Every year, MetroFamily teams with our partners at Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma to provide Geekapalooza: A STEAM Festival for Kids. Geekapalooza was held virtually in November 2020 and featured 11 workshops provided by numerous sponsors and partners.

Energy, Pelco, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, OSU College of Engineering, Architecture & Technology, Delaware Resource Group of Oklahoma, Chisel Creative, Cooper Projects, Moore Norman Technology Center, Oklahoma Aquarium, Oklahoma A+ Schools, Oklahoma Hall of Fame & Gaylord-Pickens Museum, Science Museum Oklahoma, Factory Obscura and Plenty Mercantile.

Thank you to our sponsors of Geekapalooza and this guide: Boeing, Google, Lingo Construction, Devon

Find plenty of local options for exploring STEAM in these pages:

Boeing . FUTURE U EDUCATION GUIDE Boeing and Discovery Education have launched FUTURE U to inspire and equip the next generation of STEM professionals in aerospace. FUTURE U offers handson learning experiences to help students in grades 6-12 embrace their potential to make an impact and innovate for the future. All FUTURE U resources are available on their website for free and include standards-aligned STEM lessons, virtual field trips and experiential videos.


Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma

6601 N. Robinson 405-962-8822

Automotive Engineering, where girls learn about designing, engineering and manufacturing vehicles, as well as the future of mobility. They design their own vehicles, test prototypes, learn about design thinking and create their own assembly line manufacturing process. In Outdoor STEM: Think Like a Citizen Scientist, girls participate in interactive activities to learn how scientists solve problems using the scientific method. Girls practice observation, collect data and complete a citizen science project. Then they create their Take Action project.

Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma is excited to announce the opening of their STEM center of excellence and urban camp, Camp Trivera, located in the Adventure District in Oklahoma City. Serving girls entering kindergarten through high school, Girl Scouts offers STEM programming via their Girl Scouts at Home program, day camps, resident camp, troop meetings, virtual events and more. Girl Scouts offers many STEM-related badge programs, including


Edmond Fine Arts Institute

The STEAM Engine

Oklahoma Aquarium

27 E. Edwards, Edmond 405-340-4481


300 Aquarium Dr., Jenks (near Tulsa) 918-296-3474

The Edmond Fine Arts Institutes’ programs consist of visual and performing art classes available year round. The facility was designed specifically as an art center so it is equipped to offer a variety of art mediums for all ages and levels of ability. Curriculum includes beginning to advanced classes in drawing, painting, jewelry design, clay, pottery, sculpture, mixed media, print making and theatre. Instruction is available for preschoolers through adults and taught by professional instructors who are experts in their fields. Students improve their creative and technical skills while expanding their knowledge of art history and the elements and principles of design. The duration of classes varies, but typical sessions meet once a week for six weeks during the school year and weekly during summer months. Enrollment fees are $12 per hour of instruction with full or partial scholarships available for students on the free and reduced school lunch program.

The STEAM Engine is an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization that provides out-ofschool STEAM programs for youth between the ages of 8 and 13 by partnering with community organizations and STEM professionals to offer eight-week clubs to help youth, particularly those from groups underrepresented in STEM occupations, to develop self-confidence and 21st century skills and to pursue STEM education and careers. Programs at partner sites are offered to students at no cost. The eight-week club curriculums include subjects such as Code Your Own Adventure with Scratch (online or in-person); Thrills and Spills Roller Coaster Physics (online or in-person) and new in 2021, Harry Potter inspired STEAM Exploration.

Oklahoma County 4-H Robotics Team 405-808-7360, This 4-H Club works with students in junior high and high school from Oklahoma County and surrounding counties to participate in two robot competitions in the fall (BEST competition, and spring (FIRST competition, Participants learn robotics, teamwork, marketing, project management, engineering design, programming, electrical design and, most importantly, safety. Cost is $100 per season.

Oklahoma Hall of Fame/Gaylord-Pickens Museum 1400 Classen Dr., 405-235-4458, Does the history of space travel interest you? You are certainly in the right place! Oklahoma is the only state with an astronaut involved in every stage of space flight. Strap yourself into your rocket as this museum shares the story of how Oklahomans played an important role in putting the first man on the moon and the fun they had while doing it! This FREE virtual program is geared for ages 8-12. Students will learn the history of space travel, Oklahomans’ influence on space travel, aspects of life in space and aspects of training to travel in space. Find out more at SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Bring the sea to your screen with FREE virtual field trips for K-12 students. Each virtual trip includes a pre-recorded video and accompanying activities designed to meet Oklahoma academic science standards and get students excited about marine life and conservation. Any educator can register online and choose from different curricula designed for students in K-3rd, 4th-6th or 7th-12th grades. Educators and caregivers may opt to follow up their video curriculum with a free Zoom Q&A session with education staff.

The Firehouse Art Center 444 S. Flood Ave., Norman 405-329-4523 This art center offers four sessions of two-week classes for ages 6-8 and 9-13 beginning Jan. 11, with classes meeting Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a total of nine hours of instruction. In addition, a two-week teen drawing and painting class is offered in February. The children’s afterschool classes are $90 per session. The teen class is $132 + $15 material fee. Art classes emphasize the elements of art and the introduction of the master artists.



Moore Norman Technology Center Science Museum Oklahoma 4701 12th Ave. N.W., Norman 405-801-5000 The center’s Pre-Engineering, collegepreparatory program is offered to students interested in engineering careers from Norman, Norman North, Moore, Westmoore and Southmoore high schools. Students apply the theories and principles of science and mathematics to research and develop economical solutions to technical problems. Students can complete five engineering courses in the two-year program and possibly up to seven in the four-year, freshman-entry program.

2020 Remington Pl. 405-602-3760

Science Museum Oklahoma offers camp for kids from PK-6th grade in the winter (, spring (sciencemuseumok. org/spring-break-camps), summer ( and fall ( fall-camps). Camp themes vary each season and camps never repeat a day, ensuring your young scientist gets a new experience each session of camp. Weeklong camps take place in the spring and summer, with shorter camps in the fall and winter. Camp costs vary and are available on the museum’s website or by calling 405-602-3760.


FIRST is a leading STEM program for students ages 6-18. With support from more than 200 of the Fortune 500, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. Younger students build and compete with LEGO-based robots while older students are engaged in designing a high-tech robot that can play a 3v3 game on a basketball court-sized field. FIRST is the only sport where every kid can turn pro!


Francis Tuttle Technology Center 12777 N. Rockwell Ave. 405-717-4900 Francis Tuttle offers three Academies as part of its Career Training Programs. The Academies differ from other Career Training Programs because they incorporate academic teaching alongside technical training, integrating relevant core academics and technology subjects. This tuition-free program is for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Oklahoma A+ Schools Institute

FIRST Robotics 580-330-0961

Francis Tuttle Academies College Prep and STEM

OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology STEAM Boxed Event: Introduce a Girl to Engineering 405-744-4257 Students in kindergarten through 8th grade can purchase a virtual STEAM box filled with science, art and engineering projects focused on engineering, architecture and technology disciplines. The materials are shipped to your door and instructions are delivered live online. Individuals can buy the program for $30; classrooms for $150.

100 S. Baumann Ave., Edmond 405-974-3779 SAIL into learning each month with an arts integrated subscription box, filled to the brim with activities and the materials you need to do them! Perfect for all elementary aged students, PK-5th grades, the Simply Arts Integrated Learning (SAIL) box provides four guided activities each month to deepen the understanding of core concepts ranging across math, science, literature and more. A box is shipped to your door each month for just $30. Find more info on their website or Facebook page (@okasailbox).


Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens 2101 N.E. 50th 405-425-0218 Check out the OKC Zoo’s School’s Out Day Camps: Zoology in Action held March 15-19. From testing the waters to examining animal behaviors and rearing exotic plants, zoos move full STEAM ahead while caring for wild animals and wild places. Campers will explore all facets of zoology as they take part in hands-on STEAM activities, explore the zoo and meet animal ambassadors up close! For ages 4-11, camps run 8am-4:30pm daily. $45 per child per day for Zoofriends members; $50 for non-members. Aftercare available from 4:30-5:30pm for an additional $10 per day.

Loveworks Leadership 151 12th Ave. S.E., Suite 100, Norman 405-397-9576 Loveworks Afterschool Leadership is an in-person program designed to help students in grades 4-8 make positive life choices, discover career paths and set them on a trajectory for personal success. The program is designed to help students improve their social, emotional and mental well-being as they are surrounded by caring mentors. Students will discover their unique leadership qualities and apply newly-learned skills in STEAM, entrepreneurship and more to better our community. Online resources are also available on their website. Cost is $99 per semester and scholarships are available. An Epic Learning Fund Vendor.

El Sistema Oklahoma 3220 Quail Springs Parkway 405-505-1494 El Sistema Oklahoma is an after-school program serving more than 200 underserved public school children in the heart of Oklahoma City. The mission of El Sistema Oklahoma is to assist the community by engaging children within an ensemble-based music program so they can share the joy of music-making and grow as responsible citizens. Students receive top-notch instruction from music teachers five days a week during the school year. The program is provided free of charge to families, including instruments, transportation, instruction, social support, academic support and healthy snacks. Children do not need any prior musical experience and are not required to audition to be a part of the program. Almost 300 hours of music instruction and 140 hours of academic


support will be provided for students this year alone. El Sistema Oklahoma is always accepting enrollment inquiries, but priority enrollment is given to beginning children with a school faculty’s recommendation from service sites at the Oklahoma City Public School District elementary schools: Cleveland, Kaiser, Hawthorne, Buchanan and Taft. Children should meet the following criteria to participate: must be in grades 3-5 for the current or upcoming school year, need an opportunity to engage in something positive that will result in motivation and recognition and may benefit from a sense of focus, discipline and joy.




Our next generation of problem solvers just need a little spark. That push, to explore their innate curiosity. So encourage our next generation’s problem solvers. Cultivating their ingenuity will help shape our future and improve our way of life.



Super Kids

of the Metro




How many kids can say they’ve launched a science experiment into space? This out-of-this-world scenario is a reality for a group of Bethany High School students. In the fall of 2019, the Bethany Public Schools Center for Science Technology Engineering and Math hosted a competition to select a student experiment for a unique opportunity through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) with the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). This program seeks to inspire the next generation of American scientists and engineers by engaging students from all over the nation in realworld science experiences by conducting experiments in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. The NCESSE first contacted Bethany STEM Coordinator Andrea Stewart about participating in the SSEP in 2018 thanks to


the district’s strong history of community, family and corporate support and because of its newly-formed STEM program.

Community-supported STEM learning A district-wide call was made for students’ scientific proposals. Then because one of the goals of the NCESSE is to encourage multi-faceted community involvement in STEM education, an open call helped form a community panel to judge the projects and assist in formulating the winning proposals. Stewart and Bethany High School biology teacher Amie Sellers felt this was an important step to make the experience a true community project. The panel consisted of parents, educators and STEM professionals from organizations like Boeing, Tinker Air Force Base, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Southern Nazarene University.

“Students who might be interested in a STEM career need to see what the professional scientific community is all about,” said Stewart, and involving the local STEM community was a good introduction. The panel chose student team members then-sophomore Ben Brody and juniors Jenna Cobb, Dalyn Gomez, Jackson Heffron, Hudson Howard, Laz Larson, Rachel Privette, Andrew Ratterman, Alex Reyes, Reese Rhodes, Margarita Rojas-Lopez and Zane Wright. As the team was deciding what kind of experiment to propose, Howard said they looked at some of the previous SSEP projects to see if their experiment could help build on existing data. Past projects covered a variety of fields such as seed germination, crystal growth, cell biology and food studies. The entire experiment had to be contained within a small test tube that could be identically replicated here on Earth and at the ISS simultaneously, with the singular

variable being the near-absence of gravity. The students ultimately decided to study the effects of microgravity on an insect very prevalent here in Oklahoma — mosquitoes. In order for the team’s project to be seriously considered by SSEP, they had to submit a thorough and precise scientific proposal. SSEP wants every step of the process to mirror how professional scientific research is conducted, from idea conception to proposal and review and finally to execution and data analysis. "One of my favorite things about participating in this project is getting to see all the specificity it takes to send an experiment to space,” said Rhodes. “There's constant refinements and new ideas being formed to better your research that you don't really think about. It's really exciting to get a look into what NASA's experiments are really like.”

Go for launch After finding out their project was selected for Mission 14 of SSEP in 2020, the team worked with Nanoracks, a company

that partners with NASA to utilize the International Space Station as a national laboratory, to design, source and build the actual experiment. It would then be launched aboard a SpaceX rocket to the ISS. The team had to raise $25,000 to finance the project, the majority of which was funded by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. As Ratterman detailed the technical aspects of the experiment, he explained how the dormant mosquito eggs were separated from any water or food within the test tube until it was in the desired microgravity environment and could be activated by the ISS astronauts at the exact time the students activated the identical test tube on Earth. After the mosquitoes have had sufficient time to grow, a second barrier within the experiment will be opened to release a substance to stop the mosquitoes’ life cycle. Because of this, the live mosquitoes will not be subjected to the effects of gravity upon reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere, allowing for comparison between those on Earth that are impacted by gravity. After several delays, the students’ project

was finally launched in early December 2020. The team was originally invited to watch the launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but, ultimately, they weren’t able to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. Still, Sellers and Stewart hope these students realize what an accomplishment they’ve achieved, not the least of which is a longlasting impact on the scientific community. After receiving and analyzing the team’s data from the experiment once it has returned, Sellers says the data will be added to scientific databases that can be accessed by the greater scientific community to better understand the effects of gravity, or lack of gravity, on living things. “To be able to send an experiment to the International Space Station was most likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Sellers. “This was doing real science in the real world. Many students can claim that they are National Honor Society members or straight A students. However, very few can say they have submitted a selected proposal for scientific research in the International Space Station."

Supporting Change– For the Better Ten-year-old Brixton Ison volunteers every Friday night at Celebrate Recovery Memorial Road Church of Christ. Whether setting a dining table, distributing informational material, or preparing a dish for a family-friendly dinner, his passion for helping others is a prime example of why we’re inspired by kids like Brixton. At Kimray, our mission is to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. Brixton exemplifies this by living out that mission in the service he provides to his community. And that’s The Kimray Way.



100 YEARS L ATER Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre




here do you think the first bombs fell on American soil? Right here in Tulsa, Okla. My hometown. I was shocked when I found out what happened on Black Wall Street in the Greenwood District. As the 100th anniversary of the event approaches this year, it’s imperative that students and adults understand this history to acknowledge the pain and heartache and to ensure this never happens again.




What happened Sadly, these bombs were fueled by racism, segregation and mistrust. Over the course of 16 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921, the city’s vibrant Black business district full of theaters, shops and churches was razed to the ground. So, how did it start? A simple mishap between a Black boy and a white girl in an elevator escalated. The violence that erupted afterward destroyed more than 600 businesses and left 9,000 homeless and more than 300 dead. Some accounts report thousands of Black people lost their lives. This stain on American history has been excluded from history books for decades. This explains why many Americans who have lived in Tulsa most of their lives, like me, have only recently learned about this devastation. Nearly 100 years later, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister recently declared the state will move forward with embedding the catastrophe of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre into the Oklahoma school curriculum.

My family’s response

Commemorating the anniversary

When I reflected on the anniversary, I realized my fourth grade son knew nothing about these devastating events. I wondered why I hadn’t mentioned it to him yet. I realized it was painful to talk about a divided nation, hate, mistrust and racism, but it was necessary. As parents, we can sometimes sugar coat things for our children. But I decided I couldn’t sugar coat this. It was important to research and learn together, discuss it openly and journal our feelings.

As the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre approaches, we invite you, your family and our community to commemorate the victims and their descendants of this tragedy. To do this, you could research historical facts, explore historical websites and visit museums, parks and churches in the Greenwood District. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few things we have done to help you get started:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my son and I have had extra time together, so we used it to research Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre. My son asked questions that were hard to answer, not only because of the devastation that happened but because of the disappointment and disbelief in his face. His questions included: “Why did they burn churches? Why didn’t the police help? Isn’t the National Guard our military? Why would they capture Black people for no reason? Why would they do that to us? They acted like our lives didn’t matter.” When I said, “Son, that was a different time when some people’s hearts were full of hate,” he was not satisfied. He told me, “I think everyone should know about this so it won’t happen again.” As a result, we wrote a children’s book together, A Promised Deferred: The Massacre of Black Wall Street, describing the massacre from a child’s perspective and including activities that promote critical thinking, reading comprehension, a word search and coloring activities.

1. Get informed together. Visit the Oklahoma Historical Society website, search for and read Hannibal B. Johnson’s article Greenwood District and the article Tulsa Race Massacre. 2. Visit the places these events happened. Go to guided-tours to schedule a guided tour of these places: • Greenwood Cultural Center has a historic collection of newspaper articles and photos of the survivors of the horrific events. • John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park memorializes the tragedy and tells the story of how African Americans built Oklahoma.


Google is proud to call Oklahoma home



• Mabel B. Little Heritage House originally belonged to Tulsa Race Massacre survivors Sam and Lucy. The house was destroyed during the tragedy and rebuilt in 1925. It provides a glimpse into life before the massacre. • Ellis Walker Woods Memorial pays tribute to Ellis Walker Woods, who walked from Tennessee to Oklahoma to become the first principal of Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School. Vernon A.M.E. Church is the only standing Black-owned structure from the historic Black Wall Street era. • Mt. Zion Baptist Church was founded in 1909 under the leadership of Reverend Sandy Lyons. Rioters burned it down on June 1, 1921, and it was rebuilt in 1942. • Standpipe Hill White is the highelevation location rioters used to fire on the Greenwood District with machine guns.

Meet the Head of School We talked to Will Blanchard, head of school of Oklahoma Christian Academy, about this private school in Edmond. The school serves over 500 students in Pre-K through 12th grade. Blanchard has been in his position at the school since June.


What is the school’s educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at Oklahoma Christian Academy? As a Christian school, we believe all knowledge points to God, and the lessons we learn are best used to love our neighbors well and to bring light, energy and imagination to our community. We challenge our students to consider life deeply—we are not satisfied with shallow thinking, shallow relationships or shallow purpose. If you visit our campus, you will see we are walking with our students toward depth across four fronts: (1) LOVE – How are you equipping yourself to love people better? (2) EXPLORE – Are you regularly learning new ideas and fueling your curiosity? (3) RISK – Belief before fear; are you asking “why?” or “why not?” (4) CELEBRATE – Life is good! How are you intentionally living in joy, hope and celebration? Learn more at about how the school has handled the challenges of the pandemic, the accomplishments of OCA students and the school’s differentiating factors compared to other educational options in the metro.

Oklahoma Christian Academy 1101 E 9th St, Edmond 405-844-6478 PAID ADVERTISEMENT


• The Historic Greenwood Business District is known for its prominence and progress during the early 20th century. 3. Attend an event to commemorate the anniversary. Explore the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Commission’s website and click on the events tab to see which celebration(s) you would like to attend. 4. Visit the Greenwood Rising Museum. The museum will be a history center honoring the Greenwood District before and after the tragedy. The museum should be completed by late spring of 2021. 5. Looking for pandemic-suitable commemoration ideas? Learn together at home. Make a movie night with theater fixings including popcorn, candy and drinks. Watch the Black Wall Street documentary on YouTube, oJbF9SGB3Yk, discuss your feelings about the documentary and light a candle for the lives that were lost.

Visiting museums and historical sites and watching the documentary mentioned have helped our family link everything together and appreciate both the tragedy and the triumph of the Greenwood District. There is so much to be learned from these events that should never be repeated. What will you do to remember them? What will you do to make sure these events are never repeated? Share how your family is learning about the Greenwood District and Tulsa Race Massacre and/or how you will commemorate the 100th anniversary by emailing tips@ so we can compile ideas from families around the state. DURING THE PANDEMIC, TAMECCA AND HER SON KEITH LEARNED TOGETHER ABOUT THE VIBRANCY OF HISTORIC BLACK WALL STREET AND THE DEVASTATION OF THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE.

Leading the World in Traffic Signal Hardware




Integrated Arts Creative ideas for at-home learning

Whether your kids are learning virtually, in a classroom setting or via homeschool, the winter months, coupled with a pandemic, means more time spent at home. Thanks to our friends at Oklahoma A+ Schools, we’re launching a 6-month series of easy, fun and engaging arts integration activities kids and families can enjoy together. Bonus: integrating the arts with students’ everyday academics is proven to increase comprehension and retention!

Lesson 1: Let’s Get Moving! What do roller coasters, waves and percussion instruments have in common? Each teaches something about movement. We experience movement in the push and pull of force, the slope of a line on a graph and the stretch of a muscle. Movement is not restricted to one standard or topic. Let’s dive in to experience movement with a creative activity.


Force and Motion Sculptures Have you heard of Newton’s Laws of Motion? If not, Google it with a grown-up, and then let’s check them out in action. We’ll create a sculpture from found objects around the house that will demonstrate movement with the help of a familiar simple machine: the wedge. Then we’ll see how our sculpture wedge moves a ball forward.

4. Then discuss with your grown-up or sibling (or write down your answers or even create a video of your responses!):

1. Choose objects from around the house to create a ramp. You can use boxes, blocks, LEGOs, books, whatever you can find! 2. Mark a start and end point with tape or another found object. Your start point is the bottom of your ramp. Choose a spot for your end point, which is where you predict your ball will roll to when coming off your ramp. 3. Place a ball at the top of your ramp and let it go. Force pulls the ball toward your ending line. Measure how far your ball rolled with a tape measure, ruler or piece of string.


• How did the shape or size of the sculpture affect how my ball moved?

• What could I change to make the ball move farther?

• How does my sculpture represent movement?

Share a photo or video of your sculpture with the tag #okcfamilyfun for a chance to be featured by MetroFamily! Integrated arts activities are created by certified teachers and provided by Oklahoma A+ Schools to meet the Oklahoma Academic Standards across multiple content areas. Find more activities at integrated-arts.

3 ways to celebrate MLK Jr. Day and Black History Month Jan. 18

FREE The Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Holiday Coalition is moving the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration online. Beginning at 9 a.m., watch a silent march to ring Oklahoma’s replica of the Liberty Bell followed by a holiday program and finish with a virtual parade at 2 p.m. from your home, honoring the four-decade legacy of this inclusive event in our city. Norman Philharmonic hosts a virtual MLK Celebration concert to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Listen to a community choir, guest speakers and take part in an audience sing-along of civil rights songs, hymns and popular music. Ticket prices to be announced. 7 p.m.

Feb. 6

In honor of Black History Month, families can learn about the contributions of Black people in the West as Kids Take Over the Cowboy. Learn about Bill Pickett and his unique method of taking down a steer, talk to a Buffalo Soldier about life on the frontier and more. Activities are free with admission, while supplies last, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Top In-Person Events

Top Virtual Events

Jan. 8-10

See majestic eagles in their natural habitat at Arcadia Lake’s Eagle Watch. Stop by the park office to find out where the eagles can be found and see the raptor wingspan display, educational videos and more. Dress warmly and bring binoculars. $3 per vehicle. 8am-4pm.

Jan. 10

Jan. 24

Drop in for some artistic inspiration at The Cowboy’s Drop-in Drawing session. Explore your creative side, practice different techniques and be inspired by the artwork on display while gathering with fellow artists and art lovers. Borrow drawing materials from the museum (while supplies last) or bring your own. Free with admission. 2-3pm.

Feb. 6

Celebrate the month of love at the Yukon Chocolate Festival. Metro vendors will be handing out samples of their delectable treats and attendees can vote on favorites. Enjoy a silent auction with proceeds from the event benefiting local park renovations and the Mabel C. Fry Public Library. Pricing TBD. 1-3pm.

March 6

Young anglers can get a jumpstart on spring fishing season at the FREE Kid’s Trout Fish Out at Dale Robertson Center Pond. Kids can vie for door prizes and take part in fishing-themed activities including the annual race around the pond. 8-11am.

Journey to Rome and follow along with archeologist Jade Bajeot during the Roman Deities & Mythology Zoom brought to OKC by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in anticipation of their upcoming The Painters of Pompeii exhibition. Travel to several elaborate temples and get your questions answered about Apollo, Hercules, Venus and more. Best suited for ages 7-12. $35-$45. 1-2pm.

Jan. 26

Hang out with the experts from Science Museum Oklahoma to discuss H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine during their FREE Virtual Book Club. The group will explore theories about the nature of our physical universe and uncover elements from the book that could go from science fiction to science fact. All ages welcome. Preregister. 6pm.

Pediatric Occupational Therapy SPECIALIST “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” Steve Jobs

One stop shopping is great for your groceries but it’s not the Best for your child’s therapy.

405-285-1828 TOTALPOSS-ABILITIES.COM 2917 NW 156th St., Edmond, OK

Watch at /raising-okc-kids or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JAN-FEB 2021



Date Night Events

Museum Exhibitions

Jan. 27

Opening Jan. 13

Jet away to Destination Naples and Pompeii, virtually. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is hosting a threepart Zoom series of expert-led conversations and the final installation focuses on food and wine. Take a virtual tour of Naples and Southern Italy. Attendees can opt to purchase a four-pack of wine to participate in a tasting. $30-$40. 7-8:30pm.

Feb. 16

The King’s Singers present a unique collection of pieces that spans the globe—from the Reformation age and South African freedom songs to the Scottish Highlands and the American civil rights movement, creating a powerful story about who we are and how we got here. $35 & up. 7:30pm.

Feb. 19-20


OKC Phil is honoring legendary songwriters in country music with their Heartland: The Women of Country Music concert. Hear symphonic tributes to Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton and others in a 60-minute, socially-distanced program. Ticket prices TBA. 8pm.

For a full, up-to-date list of events in the OKC metro, visit Editor's note: Due to COVID-19, events are subject to change. Please check with each venue for updates.


FREE Still Here: The Cosmology of Black Resilience at Myriad Gardens Visitor Center (301 W Reno Ave) is an interdisciplinary art exhibition that explores what it means to be Black and resilient. Monday & Tuesday, 10am5pm; Wednesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm.

Opening Feb. 11

FREE Crystal Z Campbell: Flight at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) explores the physical, architectural and cultural residue of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre into the present using light, sound and digital film projection. Wednesday-Monday, 11am6pm; Thursday, until 9pm.

Opening Feb. 12

Spiro and the Native American Art of the Mississippian World at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) explores the archaeological and historical data connecting the Spiro site and its people to other communities throughout North and Central America. The Spiro people, and their Mississippian peers, are nearly forgotten in the pages of North American history, yet they created one of the most exceptional and highly-developed societies in all of the Americas. Adults, $12.50; kids (6-12), $5.57; kids (5 & under), free. MondaySaturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm.

Opening Feb. 18

FREE Ed Ruscha: OKLA at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) is a landmark survey of work by Oklahoma-raised, worldrenowned artist Ed Ruscha in his first-ever solo exhibition in his home state. Focusing on his groundbreaking drawings, prints, books, photos, films and graphic design, the exhibition will include works from all stages of his 60-year career. Wednesday-Monday, 11am-6pm; Thursday, until 9pm.

Opening Feb. 20

Moving Vision: Op and Kinetic Art from the Sixties and Seventies at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) brings together approximately 40 works in optical and kinetic art. Adults, $12; kids (17 & under), free. Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm.


Educational Fun Awaits

at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum What programs are available for kids and families at the National Cowboy Museum? At the time of this interview we aren’t currently offering guided tours, however there are plenty of opportunities for selfdirected free-choice exploration. Ask about the family guides and scavenger hunts when you arrive. These encourage kids and parents to look a little closer at objects and artwork. During traditional school break weeks we offer drop-in activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop by for a make-and-take art/craft project. No reservations are required but activities are only available while supplies last so don’t miss out! On the first Saturday of the month, we offer Kids Take Over the Cowboy from 10 a.m. to noon. Families have the chance to explore the museum and participate in activities related to Western culture. It may be a celebration of women in the West, trying your hand at traditional Native games or learning more about a special exhibition through craft activities and story time. Bedtime Buckaroos is a virtual bedtime story released on Monday evenings on our social media platforms. Story time plays a vital role in introducing children to the magic of books. Each week we feature a new engaging Western story read by local authors, community leaders, traditional storytellers and museum staff. One of our newest initiatives is our

Mystery History Box. This interactive, educational box for kids is designed by our staff and is full of crafts, games and a special surprise to help make learning about the West more fun! Each box includes a coloring book, three crafts, a bandanna to color, a lariat and a canvas to create your own Western masterpiece! The coloring book features prominent women from Western history and puzzles and games that relate to each woman. Boxes may be purchased for $25 at The Museum Store or online at store.

How have you adapted your programs to keep kids and families safe during the pandemic? We’ve been able to move some of our bigger programs such as the Cherokee Cultural Celebration and Rodeo Opry History Concert to virtual experiences available during a select time period.

What else can kids and families enjoy at the museum? One of our newest exhibits designed especially with kids in mind is Liichokoshkomo’, which is more than 100,000 square feet dedicated to learning and family fun. Liichokoshkomo’ (pronounced Lee-cho-kosh-ko-MO) is a Chickasaw phrase for “Let’s play,” and the spirit of that statement serves as an invitation for families to experience handson learning. Families can explore Native dwellings such as a Pawnee earth lodge or Chickasaw Council House, learn to rope a steer in the rodeo arena, tap out a message with the telegraph or determine how often the geyser rockets out of the waterfall pool. Parents can take a break while they watch the kiddos play at the Friess Family Playground. The completely enclosed play space allows kids to run and climb, all within a parent’s line of site.

We also added make-at-home craft and art projects to our website ( Most of these use items you already have around the house. There is a lot of space to spread out at the museum and on our grounds. Activities are socially distanced so family groupings can stay together to complete a project. Surfaces and supplies are cleaned before the next family uses them. Hand sanitizer is found throughout and we require face masks.



Get ready to run (or ride)!


While the cold temperatures of the winter months make us think of staying indoors where it’s warm, the cooler seasons are actually the perfect time to train as a family for a run or bike event. And it’s always more fun to work toward fitness goals in the new year with a team!

Disguising exercise as a game can get kids engaged more easily, like playing frisbee or tag to build up endurance. The endorphins rush, time in the fresh air and break from screens can help decrease stress for everyone in the household. Having the end-goal of a

race in mind keeps everyone focused on a common mission, and letting kids choose a race themed to something they love or supporting a cause important to them ensures buy-in (as does the promise of race swag!) Whether your family has set your sights on running or biking a virtual race, creating your own course or looking to register for OKC’s longtime Redbud tradition, to be held in September this year, check out this training advice perfect for novices or those looking to get back in the fitness swing. Thank you to Burke Beck of Red Coyote and Steve Schlegel for serving on our expert panel to get families prepped for a run or bike ride.


We are following safety protocols to keep you and your guests safe!

605-2758 • 5800 NW 36th, OKC •


Training for a 5k race as a family Begin training at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to your race. Equipment needed: • Properly fitted, supportive running shoes. For both kids and adults, buy running shoes a half to full size larger than what you typically wear as running shoes should have a thumb’s width space between the end of the toe and the shoe. • Water bottle to carry or camel pack to wear, or set out water bottles around your course. Make sure to hydrate before and after runs, too. Burke’s favorite metro running trails: • OKC: Scissortail Park, varied trails from .3 to 1 mile in length • OKC: Lake Hefner, 9.2 miles around COURTESY OF THE REDBUD CLASSIC

• Edmond: Mitch Park, 2.8 mile main trail or 1.8 mile inner trail • South OKC: Earlywine Park, about 2 miles

Training Schedule • Week 1: Walk 3 days* for 15-20 minutes at a time. • Week 2: Walk 3 days* for 20 minutes at a time. Start to incorporate some jogging for 2-3 minutes at a time, then walk for a minute. • Week 3: Walk/run for 3 days* for 30 minutes at a time. Jog/run for longer intervals. • Week 4 through the week before your race: Walk/run for 3 days* for 30 minutes at a time. Jog/run for longer intervals and try to spend more time running than walking. • Week 8: It’s race week! Take a break the two days prior to the race. If you need to stretch your legs, enjoy a short walk or slow, short jog. *not consecutive

Drop-in Drawing* January 10 & February 14 • 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Explore your creative side, practice different skills and be inspired by the artwork in the Museum. Borrow drawing materials from the Museum or bring your own! Kid's Take Over The Cowboy: Black History in the West* February 6 • 10:00 a.m. – Noon

Kids & Family at The Cowboy @ncwhm


1700 Northeast 63rd Street Oklahoma City, OK 73111

Celebrate Black history and culture in the American West. Learn about Bill Pickett, try your hand at roping, talk to a Buffalo Soldier and enjoy storytime at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Oklahoma Heritage Concert - Women in the West February 19 • 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

This virtual program by Rodeo Opry teaches Oklahoma history through music and culture with an emphasis on Women in the West. Virtual event available from February 19 – March 5. Register online. Kids Take Over the Cowboy: Spiro Scratch Art: Decorations for Another World* March 6 • 10:00 am - Noon

Using Spiro iconography as inspiration, scratch your own designs into a variety of objects. Enjoy storytime at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. *Free to Museum members or with Museum admission.



Ages 5-12


Training for a 10 mile bike ride as a family Begin training at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to your race.

Spring Break March 15–19 • Fun, engaging and innovative arts environment • Outdoor and in-studio instruction and experiences

Equipment needed: • Safe and operable bike, properly fitted to the rider. Any type of bike, from mountain bikes to hybrids to city styles, will work for this length of race. • Helmet • Water bottle or camel pack. For every hour you ride, drink around 20 ounces of fluid. Make sure to hydrate before and after rides, too.

• Taught by professional teaching artists

• Comfortable clothing and shoes without laces or with laces tucked in so they don’t get caught in the equipment. Padded bike shorts make longer rides more comfortable.

• Socially distanced

Steve’s favorite metro bike trails:

Member registration opens Feb. 1

General registration opens Feb. 8

Register at

• Edmond: Lake Arcadia’s Spring Creek Trail or Route 66 Trail, both 3 miles one way • OKC: Lake Hefner, 9.2 miles around • OKC: Oklahoma River Trail in the Boathouse District to Lake Overholser, 13 miles

405.951.0000 | @okcontemporary 11 NW 11th St, OKC, OK 73103


• OKC: South Grand Trail, starting in the Boathouse District, 10.5 miles • South OKC: Lake Overholser, 7 miles around • South OKC: Lake Draper, 13 miles around Training Schedule • Week 1: One to two short rides of a mile or less and one long ride, 2-3 miles. • Week 2: One to two short rides of 1-2 miles and one long ride of 4-5 miles. • Week 3: Two short rides of 1-2 miles and one long ride of 5-6 miles. • Week 4: Two short rides of 2-3 miles and one long ride of 6-7 miles. • Week 5: Two short rides of 2-3 miles and one long ride of 7-8 miles. • Week 6: Two short rides of 3-4 miles and one long ride of 8-9 miles. • Week 7: Two short rides of 3-4 miles and one long ride of 10 miles. • Week 8: It’s race week! Take it easy this week. Riding this week is OK, but don’t overdo it on a long or intense ride.


Education turns dreams into reality. Boeing is proud to support those who give others the knowledge and encouragement to pursue the life of their dreams.

Co-parenting after separation or divorce BY ERIN PAGE. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

Russell Rooms gets emotional remembering the hardship of he and ex-wife Laura explaining to their sons they were getting divorced. Six years later, thanks to strategies learned during therapy and a commitment to each other as co-parents, Russell and Laura support each other, value their relationship and make their boys the priority. “People talk about how I have something I should cherish because most divorces aren’t like this,” said Rooms. “And they aren’t going to be unless the two people decide it’s going to be different.” As Audrey Williams* navigates a divorce from her husband of 17 years, she, too, remains focused on the idea that while divorce ends a marriage, it doesn’t end a family. “Don’t let other people’s bad experiences or definitions of divorce dictate what that means for your family,” said Williams. “You can choose based on your behavior and decisions what the experience is like for your family.” Both the Rooms and Williams families made use of counseling and therapy services prior to their decisions to divorce and after. For Williams’ family, Calm Waters Center for Children and Families has provided them with individual opportunities to process emotions tied to the separation, whole-family support and learning healthy co-parenting strategies.



While society often projects the idea that children are “better off” with parents who opt to stay married, these families, and many like them, have found contentment and peace on the other side of divorce. Heather Warfield, licensed marriage and family therapist and programs director for Calm Waters, says when separated adults co-parent well, children learn invaluable life and coping skills, like healthy communication, emotion management, the value of long-lasting relationships and kindness. “It shows them that even when hard things happen, we can move forward,” said Warfield. “Ultimately, healthy co-parenting allows them to feel like they don’t have to choose and can experience love and affection from each parent without guilt.”

Announcing a separation to kids Rooms, Williams and Warfield agree that after determining separation or divorce is the right option for a couple, parents should announce it to their children together and create a safe space for sharing feelings and asking questions. Children often think they caused the separation. Small children may assume behaviors like making their beds or eating their vegetables could have prevented divorce, while older kids may believe their difficult behavior contributed to parents’ stress and the divorce. “The biggest thing for kids to know is that it’s not their fault,” said Warfield. “In their ego-centricism, children can take on the blame.” Kids need to hear what the arrangement will look like in their everyday lives and be reassured they will have a place at both parents’ homes. Providing kids structure, routine and consistency are paramount through the changes a divorce brings. A visual calendar in each home can help kids see which days they will be in which household. Though it may seem counterintuitive, keeping typical expectations for discipline and consequences reassures kids of safety and predictability. “A lot of times when children are going through hard times, adults have guilt and want to be more easy-going on rules or consequences, but kids need those more than ever,” said Warfield.

Don’t wait for kids to ask questions about the separation or divorce but rather initiate ongoing conversations to give children opportunities to discuss their feelings. Ask kids if they’re feeling like the divorce is their fault, as that may open discussion about those hard-to-process emotions.

3 Locations to Serve You! Edmond • OKC • Yukon

Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy • Speech Language Therapy

“Sometimes they may want to protect the parent and present that everything is OK when beneath the surface there are things that need to be addressed,” said Warfield. “Be willing to approach the child at a developmentally-appropriate level in an open and honest environment.”

Modeling emotional expression When it comes to expressing those feelings, Rooms says it’s equally essential for parents to be open in how they’re feeling about the divorce. A parent sharing their sadness normalizes and validates the child’s experience and creates an environment for them to feel comfortable sharing. “I think it’s important for kids to know this is tough on parents,” said Rooms. “They learn that having emotions is OK. You are training them up to be adults who can cope and express themselves.” Early on, Williams concentrated on being strong, not wanting her kids to see her as weak or sad. Eventually her son asked how she could be happy when their family was no longer together. She realized by keeping her feelings to herself she was minimizing her children’s experiences. “I realized that in marching through this, even though my words validated his sadness, that he thought this wasn’t sad for me, too,” said Williams. “That also opened the conversation about what it means to be sad about something and still know it’s the right thing to do.” Bottling those feelings also led to misplacing anger at her ex-spouse onto her children, speaking sharply to them when unwarranted. Building mindfulness strategies and pinpointing triggers for conflict or emotions helps to separate feelings about the divorce from the child. “We do a lot of deep breathing and grounding, or bringing yourself to the present and managing internal emotional experiences without being flooded by those feelings,” said Warfield of strategies taught through Calm Waters.



Our therapists provide fun, inventive and playful interventions that address your child's specific needs. We offer physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language therapy.

Play • Learn • Thrive

Call (405) 840-1686 to schedule an evaluation!

Edmond - 14715 Bristol Park Blvd. OKC - 5701 SE 74th St. Yukon - 1445 Health Center Pkwy

Finding support for parents and kids Not all emotions brought on by a divorce or separation are appropriate to share with kids, so it’s imperative parents have opportunities to care for their mental well-being with other trusted adults. Both Williams and Rooms advocate for counseling, therapy or support groups, as well as utilizing trusted family members or friends as sounding boards. “Divorce is like a physical injury,” said Rooms. “You can choose whether to treat it and allow it to heal.” When Williams was struggling to acknowledge her feelings, her support group at Calm Waters became a powerful opportunity to share in her grief and realize she wasn’t alone. The connections Williams made provided hope during dismal times and have continued outside the group. Williams also found gratitude in the relationship she has with her ex-husband, understanding in how his processing the divorce has been different from hers and resolve to move forward in co-parenting together. “Even if you can’t find common ground to continue in marriage you absolutely can spend conscious emotional energy in remembering the common ground shared in the past and ultimately parenting good human beings together,” said Williams. The Williamses attended their Calm Waters support groups at the same time, reinforcing to their kids that they could still do things as a family. Calm Waters hosts divorce support groups for the whole family, with two adult groups meeting simultaneously so ex-spouses can attend separately. Kid groups engage participants through play and high-energy experiences, which helps them process emotions. Both the adult and child groups discuss the same topics, in an age-appropriate manner, providing fodder for family conversation. “We talk about anger, sadness, worry and guilt, all of the emotions people feel when going through a divorce,” said Warfield. “Afterward, families can talk about what they learned and how they are doing with things like anger or guilt.”



Strategies for co-parenting Rooms laughingly says he and Laura have communicated much more after their divorce than before, both about small things like kids’ activities and bigger things like consequences for behavior and introducing their new spouses. Rooms and his husband and Laura and her husband, plus both of their boys, all share a Google calendar of important events and appointments. Rooms’ and Laura’s boys learned quickly not to play one parent against the other. The parents are also committed to not sending messages to each other through the kids. Decisions about discipline and consequences are made together. If Rooms’ son receives consequences at his mom’s home, those same consequences apply when he comes to his dad’s.

But outside of discipline, Rooms says they also give each other grace in knowing their households don’t have to run the same way. “At mom’s they may not have to pick up their rooms but at our house they do; at our house they don’t have to do yard work, but at their mom’s they do,” said Rooms. “There can be different rules within the households because the parents are coming from different perspectives and have different personalities.” Rooms and Williams agree it’s most critical to never badmouth the other parent to the children, and the same goes for stepparents. They both create regular opportunities to express the strengths of the other parent to their kids.

“Each child is half of that other parent, so when one parent talks badly about the other, sometimes the child will [internalize] that,” said Warfield. Allowing access to the child is another key piece of healthy co-parenting, whether through a phone call, video chat or open invitation to attend a child’s activity during the other parent’s scheduled time. “When they are with the other parent, they miss and worry about them,” said Warfield. “Allow an open flow of access instead of [a stance of] ‘this is my night and you can’t see them.’”

Introducing a new partner Warfield advises co-parents in a healthy relationship to first discuss and come to an agreement about when and how to introduce kids to a new partner. Rooms set realistic expectations for his boys on their relationships with then-boyfriend, now husband Chad, giving them the power to decide how they felt about him for themselves. “As opposed to me telling them how to treat Chad, I told them this is someone I care about, and I hope you will, too, but I know he has to earn that trust,” explains Rooms. “You can’t force a relationship on them.” Warfield says research shows a stepparent or partner should not be the primary enforcer of discipline, with primary parents making those decisions. But stepparents should still be an ally and supporter in enforcing the decisions of the primary parents. Rooms’ and Laura’s spouses take active roles in caring for their stepsons, and now that Chad has long-since earned the boys’ trust and love, Rooms expects them to treat him with respect and consideration. “They know if they want him to do their laundry, they need to pick up their rooms,” said Rooms.

*names changed for privacy

Moving forward Rooms has struggled with feeling like a failure because his first marriage ended. “I felt I had failed because I couldn’t keep my marriage together,” said Rooms. “At the end of the day, though, we both did our best and didn’t want to live the lie of a happy marriage. We didn’t want that for either of us or our kids.” Williams acknowledges she’s made mistakes along the way, and giving herself and others involved in the divorce process grace has been a challenge.


Awesome Moms Contest Nominations open Jan. 15 - Feb. 28 www.metrofamilymagazine. com/contests

“People who have difficult-to-reach expectations for themselves often have those for other people in their lives, too, so I’m practicing grace and forgiveness very intentionally,” said Williams. In the initial stages of their separation, Williams’ ex-husband was unable to be around her, including at their children’s activities. Williams first chalked it up to selfishness and demanded different behavior, but she soon realized he needed time and space to process his emotions and acclimate to the new version of his family. When her kids asked where their dad was, she always provided a positive answer about his love for them. Looking back, Williams sees their proximity could have caused greater emotional harm to their kids if they witnessed hostility and anger, and she has since verbalized that she was wrong for being critical of how her ex-husband moved toward healing. While the time apart was a struggle, it made their current situation of attending kids’ activities and co-parenting together worth it. “We had to determine what was the ‘least bad’ thing for this situation, and that was us not being in the same place together,” said Williams. “Now I can appreciate that there wasn’t smoldering turbulence the kids didn’t need to experience. I learned not to make assumptions unless it was that the other person had the best intentions.” Each parent giving children permission to be part of the other parent’s life creates the opportunity for holding on to a sense of family, even though it looks different moving forward. “You put your own fears and insecurities aside for your kids and the sake of doing anything and everything to preserve a sense of family despite the marriage ending,” said Williams.






Whether your idea of self-care is reading a favorite book, taking a yoga class or a long soak in the tub, it can be much easier to dream about your plans than make them a reality. I talked with Stacey Johnson, LPC, and mom of eight to get her top tips in making self-care a priority in 2021, plus how to get the whole family involved! BY ERIN PAGE


Plan it.

Every Sunday think about your week ahead, look at your calendar and schedule time for self-care. You don’t have to fill the week; just pick one thing you can schedule at the same day and time every week. Remember that self-care can just take 10 to 15 minutes. Stacey loves to get in a little cardio while listening to her favorite podcast or try out a new face mask. I enjoy going for a run, reading a novel or cooking a favorite meal. You’ll be surprised how little time it takes to improve your whole mood.



Engage in self-care as a family.

Find activities you can invite your kids into. Stacey’s family uses the Calm app to meditate together for 20 minutes (even her husband loves it!). Together they listen to peaceful, calming words and her kids learn that it’s important to make time to be still and listen to their bodies. My family loves taking walks or hiking together to enjoy the fresh air and get our blood pumping.


Include conversation in your self-care time.

When you share self-care activities together, talk about how it’s benefiting you. If you’re meditating, talk about how your mind and body are growing and learning. If you’re cooking, talk about how the ingredients you’re using are good for your body. Discuss why it’s important to make time for self-care together and individually (bonus: kids will better understand why mom needs time for herself each week!). Listen for more of Stacey Johnson’s advice in a recentlyreleased episode of Raising OKC Kids where we talk about self-care ideas, managing mom guilt, the top threats to moms’ mental health, the importance of affirming ourselves as moms and the number one things moms can do in the new year to strengthen their families’ mental health at

Stacey Johnson is a licensed professional counselor in private practice at The Purple Couch where she leads individual and group counseling and co-leads couples counseling with her husband. She holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and certification in experiential therapy and the Daring Way curriculum to help women develop shame resilience and transformative courage. She is founder of Single Space, a community of encouragement for single women that meets across chapters in three cities every year, a speaker and leader of whole health women’s mastermind groups and host of The Girly Bliss podcast. Her greatest joy and accomplishment are her eight children. Follow her on Instagram @staceyjlife or her website This column is the seventh in a year-long series on family mental wellness, written by local experts on topics pertinent to parents and children. Columnists include Johnson, Dr. Erica Faulconer, pediatrician at Northwest Pediatrics and mom of three; Thai-An Truong, LPC, LADC, in private practice as a postpartum therapist and mom of two; Jeanae Neal, registered behavior therapist and mom of one; and Dr. Lisa Marotta, a psychologist, writer, speaker and mom in private practice in Edmond.

She’s One Loss Away From Depression. When crisis strikes, we’re one helping hand away.






Yes! “Momcations” are a thing and becoming ever so popular among tired mamas yearning to unite with their girlfriends and truly relax without the ongoing chores and snack requests that tend to fill their days, especially during a pandemic. Motherhood holds so much goodness and joy, but like all wonderful and worthy things in life, it definitely requires hard work and selfless giving. Reconnecting with girlfriends can fill you up in ways other relationships can’t and is a valuable opportunity to help moms prevent burnout. These escapes naturally create great opportunities for your children to also garner more respect for all the ways you love and provide for your family. Whether it’s just an evening out with your gal pals or an extended weekend trip, making time for yourself will go a long way for your mental well-being in this new year while also enriching your relationships with other moms.

The ideal momcation usually calls for finding calm, quiet spaces to simply be present with your friends, allowing for muchneeded (and uninterrupted) conversations. Of course, sharing good food, wine and some moments of bliss in a spa can be a welcomed change of pace as well! Check out several of my favorite destination ideas when planning your next mom escape.







Vacations can be hard to swing if budgets are tight or extended childcare isn’t readily available, but even a quick outing to grab dinner and drinks with friends can be a great way to step out of mom mode. The Bradford House, a historic home transformed into a boutique hotel and restaurant, is an ideal starting point in uptown OKC for ladies looking to stay local. From the moment you step inside you will experience the magical ambiance of vibrantcolored décor and smiling hosts ready to greet you with tailored hospitality. The gorgeous wraparound porch and common courtyard beckon all to relax and enjoy peace and quiet while sipping on coffee or a cocktail from the bar.

nurture their internal energy, bringing deep relaxation to muscles and minds. If brunch is what you’re after during your mom getaway, Café Kacao is within walking distance from the Bradford House and you’ll never regret a visit to this award-winning restaurant. The Latin fare, emphasizing traditional Guatemalan cuisine, is consistently made with fresh, versatile

foods that are bright in flavor and color. It’s hard to name crowd favorites when everything is delicious, but consider the migallas, huevos rancheros or empanadas for a start. Café Kacao also delivers some of the most flavorful hand-crafted coffee and brunch drinks in the city. It’s amazing what a good meal and some quality time with friends can do for our hearts and minds, even if it’s just a brief getaway.

For moms looking to extend their stay, choose from one of 12 historic rooms or a modern guest room, all curated with impeccable design and luxurious amenities. The restaurant serves tried and true dishes for breakfast and dinner, with a focus on beautiful presentation. The café features freshly baked pastries along with the highest quality coffee and teas to start your day. The nearby Paseo Arts District is the perfect area for a mid-day excursion to browse art galleries, shop various boutiques and gift stores or dine in one of the many restaurants, such as the popular Picasso Café or Gorō Ramen. Moms looking to restore their inner zen will enjoy a group class at This Land Yoga, where staff offer encouraging instruction to help even beginners find and THE BRADFORD HOUSE’S VIBRANT DÉCOR AND TAILORED HOSPITALITY CREATE AN IDEAL SPACE FOR A MOMCATION.







Located in the heart of Chickasaw country, Sulphur has become an inviting setting for moms eager to recharge and reconnect with their closest friends. The Artesian Hotel is the premiere accommodation in Sulphur, offering guests spacious suites, spa services and on-site dining. It is quite the oasis of history, luxury and modern amenities. Springs at the Artesian is a fine-dining restaurant without the elevated prices one might expect, serving up elegant, homestyle dishes from morning to night. Soak up some quality time together while relaxing in the hotel’s indoor-outdoor pool or check out the modern bathhouse, where whirlpool jets and cascading falls will help you release any pent-up tension. Explore beyond the hotel with a short walk to Rusty Nail Winery, where they offer a wide range of varietals for wine tasting, or try a Cork & Canvas class for some fun, therapeutic painting while sampling the menu. Another noteworthy attraction is the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, nestled among the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains and known for its mineral and freshwater springs. This area is brimming with gorgeous waterfalls, trails and descending creeks. Being in the great outdoors with friends while sharing meaningful conversations can restore your sense of peace and serenity. Not far from Sulphur is the small town of Tishomingo, offering up more delightful venues for spa and wine enthusiasts. Spa 211 draws clients from near and far with its quaint, welcoming atmosphere and professional staff ready to restore healing and wellness to their guests. You are guaranteed to have an indulgent experience with their high-end massages, facials and other med spa services. Step next door to the newly opened Mulberry Wine Bar, a remarkable and thoughtfully designed space offering an incredible collection of curated wines and craft beer. They also proudly showcase locally made merchandise in the retail section, such as Glacier Confections chocolates and Craig Proper pottery. Old Silo Winery is another popular destination in Tishomingo, recognized for their limited seasonal and small-batch wines, all of which can be enjoyed on their patio deck or in their uniquely converted silo tasting room.





Just outside of Dallas and Fort Worth awaits the charming city of Grapevine, where Southern hospitality and premier shopping and dining coincide for a perfect momcation experience. The historic downtown area is dotted with art galleries, tasting rooms, boutique shops and eateries, all anchored along Main Street. Moms will enjoy settling into the sophisticated accommodations offered by Hotel Vin, a refined hotel just steps away from the downtown district. Guests can appreciate locally-sourced cuisine on site at Bacchus Kitchen + Bar while being immersed in the quiet ambiance of a private dining room that overlooks the vintage railroad station. A vibrant wine culture is featured resolutely in Grapevine, where wild grapes have been growing abundantly since the mid-1800s. The Lone Star State is the country’s fifthlargest wine producer, and Grapevine sits right in the heart of this industry, offering year-round festivals, urban wine trails and tours. Book a Grapevine Wine Tour shuttle bus to take you and your friends on a fun day trip exploring three local wineries, which includes generous tastings at each location.

rave about the table-side made guacamole, street tacos and top-shelf margaritas, all made from the freshest ingredients and best enjoyed on the beautiful patio. Grapevine offers a few additional hidden treasures to entice any group of moms seeking unique places to reconnect with friends. Dr. Sue’s Chocolate is a remarkable confectionery on Main Street, offering gourmet chocolates, fruits and cookies made with premium ingredients to inspire healthier dessert options. Dr. Sue, a local practicing physician, also welcomes guests to sign up for a 2-hour class to learn the art of making decadent chocolates like truffles and ganache.

Finally, a trip to the Botanical Gardens of Heritage Park offers therapeutic rewards as you stroll through this tranquil haven of Grapevine. It’s a gorgeous place to share with friends while admiring the lush, everchanging foliage and floral colors of any season. Admission is free and the gardens are always open from dawn until dusk.

Momcations are beautiful respites but coming home with a refreshed spirit to a family eager to see you can be equally wonderful.

If you’d prefer to venture at your own pace, consider a visit to Cross Timbers Winery, located in the Historic Brock Family Farmhouse built in 1874. The tasting room presents 11 varietals grown in the High Plains and the property offers both indoor and outdoor seating for your group to relax while sampling exclusive wines. Messina Hof Grapevine Winery is another highlyregarded Texas winery showcasing more than 50 wines, with favorites like the Private Reserve Papa Paulo Port and Cabernet Franc. With more than 200 restaurants in Grapevine featuring everything from modern, upscale dishes to southern comfort food, your momcation will include an ample mix of dining options to consider. Main Street Bistro & Bakery will impress your crew with a delectable French-inspired menu served amid a welcoming, casual atmosphere certain to make you feel right at home. For an elevated take on American classics, grab lunch or dinner at Winewood Grill. The restaurant features an open kitchen concept centered around a wood fire grill; dine in the renovated dining area or choose from one of their private rooms. Let the flavors of Mexico round out your Grapevine dining experience at Mí Día from Scratch, where they harmoniously blend traditional Mexican recipes with modern Santa Fe cuisine. Guests







to our youngest Cover Kid finalists! For the first time, YOU our readers and parent community voted on our 2021 Cover Kid finalists. Your chosen finalists each had the opportunity to be interviewed by a panel of local leaders. Warren on this issue’s cover was the winner in his category, but we were so impressed with each of our finalists that we wanted you to get to know them throughout the coming year. Congratulations to each of these super star finalists in the 2 to 3 age category:

Carson, 3

Carson can belt out his favorite songs and gives the best hugs and cuddles. He loves construction toys and can name all the various trucks. From Edmond and the son of Phung and Patrick, he loves to visit the OKC Zoo and Frontier City.

Jude, 2

Jude loves to play with drums, cars and trains and is adept at making others smile. He lives in Yukon with parents Dustin and Jenna, and his favorite place to visit in OKC is Science Museum Oklahoma.


George, 3

A fun-loving guy who enjoys going to the park, playing with cars, singing and making music, George is big brother to Kate and son of Sally and George. The OKC native loves to visit Scissortail Park and the library.

Zaeley, 2

Zaeley enjoys doing anything outdoors, playing dress up, reading and creating with Playdoh. She is the daughter of Faryn and Tyler and big sister to Loxley. The family’s favorite place to visit in the metro is the OKC Zoo.

Gwendolyn, 3

Gwen can strike up a conversation with anyone and loves to sing, dance, read, play with her big brother and participate in pageants. She is the daughter of Amelia and Robert, from Mustang and enjoys visiting Top Golf, Main Event and the park.

Go Make Disciples St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School

Bishop John Carroll Cathedral School

PreK3 - 8th Grade Edmond, OK 405.348.5364

PreK3 - 8th Grade Oklahoma City, OK 405.525.0956

Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School

Secondary College Preparatory Grades 9 - 12 Oklahoma City, OK 405.842.6638

Cristo Rey OKC Catholic High School

Secondary College Preparatory Grades 9-12 Oklahoma City, OK 405.945.9100

Catholic School of St. Eugene PreK3 - 8th Grade Oklahoma City, OK 405.751.0067

Mount St. Mary Catholic High School

Secondary College Preparatory Grades 9 - 12 Oklahoma City, OK 405.631.8865

PreK - 8th Grade Oklahoma City, OK 405.789.0224

Rosary Catholic School

National Blue Ribbon School PreK3 - 8th Grade Oklahoma City, OK 405.525.9272

Christ the King Catholic School PreK3 - 8th Grade Oklahoma City, OK 405.843.3909

St. James Catholic School PreK3 - 8th Grade Oklahoma City, OK 405.636.6810

2021 winter/spring

Activities Guide city of edmond parks & recreation


Adventure & Culture

outdoor adventure • arts and cr af ts pa i t i n g a n d p o t t e r y

N O W AVA I L A B L E O N L I N E @ E D M O N D PA R K S . C O M

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