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LEANING INTO THE POWER OF PRAYER, COMMUNITY & EDUCATION

Kelli Dudley

PRAYER IS POWERFUL.

It can impact individuals and transform a community.

President Dr. Ken Jones often reminds Oklahoma Christian University staff and students of the power of prayer and how it can connect people to their calling, even when they least expect it.

In early 2023, recently tenured Education Professor Dr. Kelli Dudley felt comfortable in her career. She loved teaching and her campus community. OC had been her home for years, and she didn’t intend to leave any time soon.

However, in March 2023, a representative from the Santa Fe South School District, an independent Title 1 South OKC charter school working with an underserved population, reached out to Dr. Dudley, asking if she would be interested in being the founding principal of a new school in the district.

“When I was first approached by Santa Fe South, I laughed and declined the offer,” Dr. Dudley said. “But then I remembered a prayer I uttered in February, where I told God that if He wanted me to serve in a different capacity, I would take that opportunity. So, I decided to listen to the proposal.”

Superintendent Chris Brewster’s proposal allowed her to teach one in- person course per semester at OC and hire graduates of the OC School of Education to fill vacant positions.

Everything fell into place, so she accepted.

THE POWER OF COMMUNITY IN EDUCATION

Trinity Elementary is a Title 1 charter school in South Oklahoma City serving predominantly (98%) Hispanic students from low-income families. It currently serves pre-K through first grade and plans to add a grade level each year until it serves students up to fifth grade.

Enrollment demand is so high, Trinity has opened a waitlist for the upcoming school year.

Dr. Dudley says the high demand can be attributed to its incredible faculty.

All Trinity certified classroom teachers are her former students who have graduated from Oklahoma Christian University's School of Education. In fact, Dr. Dudley filled all teaching positions within four days of accepting the job as principal. Her staff includes:

Jemma Arbuckle (’23) (Pre-K)

Abby Peace (’20) (Pre-K)

Katie Welborn (’22) (Kindergarten)

Carli Schrader (’23) (Kindergarten)

Kyleigh Marquez (’20) (First)

Emma Roper (’22) (First)

Michaella Demaray (’23) (Music)

Madeline Roseke (’18) (Counselor)

Trinity also employs seven bilingual paraprofessionals, one bilingual administrative assistant and one reading interventionist.

Trinity teachers praying


“Working with my former students is a dream come true,” Dr. Dudley said. “We have collectively set our eyes on the higher purpose this opportunity provides, and we are all determined to do our very best.”

The entire Trinity Elementary faculty is united by a shared mission to fulfill a greater purpose in their work. Their mission is to be a light to this world, to be a beacon of positivity and to give hope to children who have experienced trauma or hard times. They often pray before school hours and share their gratitude for the day. The faculty strives to maintain focus on the ultimate goal of teaching these precious children through love and sincerity, while not getting bogged down by the challenges of the job.

There is nothing easy about teaching, but this group has dedicated themselves to teaching their students practical skills as well as reminding them of their innate value. Under Dr. Dudley’s direction, the Trinity faculty and staff are providing their students with invaluable opportunities to realize their full potential.

“I receive a double load of gratitude when I watch teachers I have taught successfully teach young children that I love,” Dr. Dudley said. “My cup runneth over with the success of my teachers and their current students. The only way this job could be any better is if I get to hire more OC graduates!”

Oklahoma Christian’s community can be very proud of their graduates at Trinity Elementary.

Thanks to the bravery, intelligence and faith of Dr. Dudley and these OC alumni, lives are being transformed in Oklahoma City.



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