Tinker Business & Industrial Park

Tinker Business & Industrial Park
2601 Liberty Parkway
Midwest City, OK 73110

Located just across from

Tinker Air Force Base!

Call 405-733-4949

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Jeri and Warren Thomas recognized as first "Friends of Alternative Education" | Posted 03/23/2007

Tinker Business & Industrial Park (TBIP) Managing General Partner Warren Thomas and his wife, Jeri, were recently presented with the first ever "Friends of Alternative Education" Award during the Alternative Education Summer Conference, held June 22nd at the Clarion Marriott Hotel in Oklahoma City.

The Friends of Alternative Education Award was presented to the Thomases, who, as owners of Intervest Development Limited Partnership (IDLP) sponsored Shawnee's alternative school through a local Adopt-a-School Program, and found unique and creative ways to become involved with the alternative education program. In doing so, Jim Thorpe Academy (JTA) Principal Debbie Watson said that the Thomases "went for the brain and heart of each student," by encouraging them to further their education and providing them with possibilities for a better future.

IDLP is a sister company of Tinker Business & Industrial Park.

The presentation was made to the Thomases by Dr. Mary Meritt, Assistant Superintendent of the Department of Education's Office of Innovation, Support and Alternative Education, following remarks by State Superintendent of Education Sandy Garrett via teleconference.

Activities sponsored by IDLP included a day-long Franklin Covey for Teens seminar, and an end-of-school awards ceremony. At the awards ceremony, a number of students were recognized for a variety of outstanding achievements and were presented with shares of stock in Sonic and Microsoft, savings bonds, or a monetary gift to seed a savings account. Also, desktop computers were awarded to two top-achieving students, and an additional eight desktop computers were donated to Jim Thorpe Academy by IDLP and Redd-Rover.

In addition to the awards ceremony, itself, JTA students heard speeches by Gen. Ben Robinson (Ret.), who is the Oklahoma Director of Boeing Aerospace in Oklahoma City, and long-time State Senator and world renowned Native American artist, Kelly Haney.

Following the Jim Thorp Academy Awards ceremony in May, Watson said that word of mouth spread quickly about the their involvement, in recognition of their interest in and desire to step up and not fear the challenge of helping kids in an alternative school. "Anyone can write a check," IDLP Manager Rachael Monroe recalls Warren Thomas commenting. "We want to make a difference in the students' lives," he added.

Keeping with that thought, the Thomases sought ways to provide awards and recognition that focused on financial literacy. Additional monetary assistance was received from community partners OG&E and Shawnee Dentist Dr. Joe Taron to help make that possible, Monroe said.

In accepting the Friends of Alternative Education Award, Thomas told the Alternative Education Summer Institute attendees that one statement best summed up the immense gratification he felt as a sponsor of Jim Thorpe Academy. To address a question of the JTA students by Mrs. Watson about what had been most significant to them during the awards ceremony, one student replied, "People don't think of us as hoodlums."

According to the summer conference keynote speaker Dr. Bob Barr, "Oklahoma is serving 15,000 students annually in the alternative education system and the concept has proven unusually effective in salvaging the lives of poor and minority students. The reason these schools are successful," he continued, "is because they are surrounding students with a surrogate family atmosphere of caring, support and high expectations."

As Senior Analyst with the Boise (Idaho) State University Center for School Improvement, Dr. Barr studies schools around the world and said no other state more carefully provides assistance to their alternative education programs. "Oklahoma is the only state where careful data is collected and researched every year on alternative education," he added.

For more information call 733-4949 or email janelle@tbip.net.