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Morning Bell: Local teacher in DC to testify in Kavanaugh hearing

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Good Friday morning! Today, U.S. Grant High School teacher Melissa Smith is in Washington to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the fourth day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Smith was invited by Democrats to speak in opposition to Kavanaugh, specifically about his views on labor unions and school choice.

“I'm crazy nervous, anxious, excited and all of that,” Smith said.

Even before she was added to the witness list, Smith had been lecturing on the Supreme Court nomination process in her criminal justice class at U.S. Grant. Last week, she revealed to her students that she would be taking part in the proceedings in Washington, D.C.

“I think knowing that my kids and other teachers are going to watch this makes me more nervous than anything else because I want to make sure I represent them well,” Smith said. “I talk to my students every day about using their voice and how to exercise their rights, and now I can be an example of that.”

You can read my story here on Smith's trip to Washington and the testimony she plans to give. 

Recognizing student trauma at school

Oklahoma educators are looking to new ways to deal with student discipline, especially with students who have experienced trauma. “Kids who experience trauma learn to respond to that trauma with survival skills instead of reasoning skills, which can look like bad behavior and poor decision making to teachers and school administrators,” said Kristin Atchley, the Executive Director of Counseling for the State Department of Education.

Atchley said disciplining or yelling at a traumatized child can re-traumatize them, making it difficult for them to calm down and continue learning. She’s teaching educators alternative ways of dealing with students who are acting out. State Impact's Emily Wendler has more on this approach to student trauma and how schools are embracing it. 

Oklahoma Promise scholarship stands out

Oklahoma's Promise scholarship program is doing what it was designed to do — help students from families with limited income aspire to, prepare for and graduate from college. That's the conclusion of a new performance review of the program by the Southern Regional Education Board.

Students who earn the scholarship outperform their peers in every measure — from high school grade-point average to college graduation — and nearly 89 percent of graduates work in Oklahoma and contribute to the state's economy, Cheryl Blanco said Wednesday in a report to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Coat-A-Kid still looking for donations

Time is running out to coat a kid in Oklahoma's largest school district before the temperatures start to drop.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Schools manages the Coat-A-Kid program for Oklahoma City Public Schools. So far, the foundation has raised $49,500 but still needs about $65,500 to reach its $115,000 fundraising goal.

The deadline to purchase about 6,000 new coats for students in need is Oct. 1. The district will begin distributing them in late October.

Approximately 90 percent of the district's 46,000 students live at or below the poverty line.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great weekend! 

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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