Choice Matters honors leaders with ‘Parent Power’ awards

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three schools and two parent leaders were honored with 2020 Parent Power Awards on the final day of the 2021 Oklahoma Parent Power Summit & Education Expo, which concluded on Friday, Jan. 29. The event was hosted in conjunction with National School Choice Week and aimed at providing parents tools to improve educational outcomes for children.

Winning schools were selected for contributing to academic excellence in Oklahoma, expanding parent choices, and elevating the needs of parents and students over other considerations. Honorees included:

    • Traditional Public School District of the Year: Lawton Public Schools. LPS provided families the choice of in-person, remote or blended learning experiences in 2020. It did so after extensive input from the Lawton community.

    • Public Charter School of the Year: Epic Charter Schools. Epic is the fastest growing school district in Oklahoma, offering parents an established, cutting-edge virtual learning option. Epic also worked to launch a new program, Heritage Academy, focused on bilingual education and culturally relevant instruction for Hispanic students.

    •  Private School of the Year: The Academy of Christian Studies. Based in Oklahoma City, the Academy annually doles out over a half million dollars in financial aid and scholarships, and it has placed an emphasis on attracting families from underserved, lower income communities.

Two parents also received Parent Power Awards for their work to expand access to school choice for the entire Oklahoma community. They are:

    •  Choice Advocate of the Year: Ronda Peterson. Peterson, of Edmond, has organized numerous meetings with lawmakers for parents to advocate for policies such as the expansion of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships and an increase in the tax credit cap for Equal Opportunity Scholarships. She continues to meet and train parents, support them in their advocacy, and represent them at the Capitol.

    •  Parent Power Champion: Jennifer Johnson. An Owasso native, Jennifer helped to organize and lead a press conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol advocating for schools to reopen to in-person instruction. She helped to launch and lead the new group Parent Voice Oklahoma.

The Parent Power Summit and Expo was hosted by ChoiceMatters, a non-profit supporting parent-led education initiatives in Oklahoma. Executive Director Robert Ruiz said the organizing principle of the summit was that parents and families need to come first.

“Education, and especially public education, needs to elevate the needs of parents and students above all else,” said Ruiz, who organized the event which concluded on January 29. 

“It’s about getting kids the tools they need to succeed and giving parents the opportunity to find the best educational fit for their kids. The schools and the individuals we honored are working to make sure we always put families first.”