OKLAHOMA CITY — Norman resident Emily Stratton, executive director of the nonprofit Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, has been awarded the 2021 Multicultural Citizen of the Year by the Multicultural Education Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Stratton was recognized at the institute’s recent virtual conference for her leadership in developing and coordinating the Teachers of English Learners Project, a collaborative online training platform to provide professional development, networking and support for classroom teachers in schools with a high enrollment of English Learner students.
The Multicultural Education Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma is a two-day networking and training opportunity for education professionals that embraces diversity in the classroom and seeks to improve academic success.
Each year, the institute honors individuals and organizations for their positive influence in diversity and cross-cultural efforts in Oklahoma.
“I am very honored to be the recipient of this special award and represent the team that brought success to our Teachers of English Learners Pilot Program,” Stratton said.
Stratton and her team, which included advisory and content committees made up of foundation trustees and English learner specialists from school districts and colleges, created the platform in response to the rapidly growing diversity of Oklahoma’s students, and the unique challenges that this represents for classroom teachers.
“When we heard that 42 percent of the more than 50,000 English Learner students in our public schools were not graduating, we knew we had to do some type of teacher professional development to help teachers better assimilate these students into their classrooms,” Stratton said.
The online learning platform for the Teachers of English Learners Project was developed by NextThought, an Oklahoma company that specializes in online professional development and community networking.
The platform includes a comprehensive English as a Second Language Certification Exam Prep Course complete with readings, videos, activities and quizzes tied to the 14 competencies required for state certification.
As an incentive, the program provided exam fee vouchers for teachers who completed the course.
Following a successful pilot year serving more than 800 educators, organizers are planning a state-wide roll-out in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
“This program fits the mission of our Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence so well: to recognize and encourage academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools,” Stratton said. “We hope the program will make a difference for the future of these English learner students and the future of our state.”
Since 1999, Stratton has served as executive director of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
An advocate for public education in Oklahoma, she serves on the boards of OU’s Jeanine Rainbolt College of Education and the OU School of Dance and is active in the Downtown Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, where she was named Rotarian of the Year in 2009.
She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and has served on its board of directors.
In addition, Stratton is a founding member of the Oklahoma Arts Institute and the Clinton Public School Foundation, for which she served as interim president.