Public Schools Support Program offers help to Osage students at every level

The Osage Nation Public Schools Support Program aims to steer a student through to success by assigning a field facilitator to look after every student. The program is administered to Osage students in Osage County by the Nation’s Education Department.

However, not many students have taken advantage of the program.

“I think the misconception is that the program is for at-risk kids – but it’s for everyone,” said Lita Kelley, a field facilitator for the program. A misconception that might be held by school counselors and administrators as well.

The program has been in existence for two years and the education department isn’t getting as much participation as they would like, Kelley said. They’ve tried advertising the program on the education department’s website, sent mail-outs to Osage parents and have attended Johnson O’Malley parent meetings but are still meeting some resistance to the program.

Participating schools include Woodland, Hominy and Pawhuska but Kelley is hopeful that the program grows to include other schools in the county area to bridge the gap of communication between the Nation, the educators and the students’ families.

The Public Schools Support Program, aimed at students Kindergarten through 12th grade, assigns a field facilitator to those students who are struggling in different academic areas. Field facilitators obtain a list of all Osage students attending schools in the Osage County area, obtain their grades and schedule a meeting with the student’s teacher or school counselor.

Field facilitators can also be requested by the student, the student’s parent or by their legal guardian, Kelley said.

The field facilitators aren’t restricted to just academic help, they are there to help students with whatever they need to succeed in their academic environment, said Rebekah HorseChief, Acting Field Facilitator and Office and Web Manager for the education department.

In some cases a student may be carrying an extra burden by worrying about their parents keeping the lights on in the house or having food in the home, she said. Once the field facilitator is made aware of the situation they could then refer the student’s parents to the Nation’s LIHEAP program, which gives assistance to those families who qualify for utility bill assistance or the Crisis Assistance Program, that helps families that qualify with groceries.

Services from the Nation can help students in areas such as counseling, financial help, assisted living and health care, to name a few. For the student’s academic needs the field facilitator can provide them with a tutor, help with college applications, scholarship applications, take the student’s on college day trips, anything to help the student succeed, Kelley said.

Last semester Kelley took students to Oklahoma State University, her alma mater where she earned her bachelor’s in Elementary Education and her master’s in Teaching, Learning and Leadership with an emphasis on Literacy.

Currently, there are two field facilitators that oversee the Woodland, Hominy and Pawhuska schools. The school with the most served student population is Woodland, with more than 30 students utilizing Kelley.

Focus of the program is to:

-       Improve the attendance rate of Osage students

-       Improve the grade level performance in reading, language, math, science and social studies

-       Improve the End of Year test scores to have all enrolled students scoring in the top 50 percent

-       Increase the average ACT score of Osage students to 21

-       Provide scholarship information to students who are trying to obtain a higher education

“It’s a program we’re hoping all Osage students will utilize,” HorseChief said. “This is a unique program that’s 100 percent funded by the tribe for Osage students’ success.”

HorseChief said the program has received additional funding from the Second Osage Nation Congress to pay for additional ACT testing for high school students.

“I’m always talking to the teachers, seeing who needs help,” Kelley said. “I’m just there for the kids to try and make them successful.”

For more information on the Public Schools Support Program, call (918) 287-5300 or call Toll Free at (800) 390-6724.