Whiz Kids

Changing the Future

by Rachel McLemore
Whiz kids.annieandstudent.bypassion.jpg

It takes one life to make a difference in this world. One of the best ways to touch a life is to help a child and anyone has the ability to do so with Whiz Kids.


Whiz Kids is a program providing one on one tutoring for children in first through sixth grade who are behind on their reading levels. The children meet with their tutors once a week when the school day ends.


Churches all over Oklahoma City volunteer to tutor children from various schools. Chapel Hill’s program works with Greystone Elementary. The Church of Pentecost USA is a tutoring site for students from Kaiser Elementary. Each site involves tutors from many churches, but both of these sites are deeply attached to Chapel Hill. They are coordinated by Chapel Hill members and have may tutors at both sites.


Jennie Penner, who coordinates the Kaiser program says students must be able to read well from the beginning to develop a successful future. Whiz Kids has proved to be efficient in helping children not only read, but to do math and improve their grades.


“Their skills are better and their grades are better and that’s proven,” Penner said.

Whiz Kids show students that God loves them and that there is an adult who cares about them and will show up every week at the same time, one day a week.  “That’s what Whiz Kids is. It’s a great program.”


Beth Hammack, has been a Whiz Kids tutor for the past twelve years since Greystone Upper (now Greystone) Elementary qualified to be held at Chapel Hill.

 “We not only give them biblical training and teaching, but the most valuable thing is one to one relationship.”


“We have a job to recruit, inspire, in my mind, Christian adults in our community and our church to become tutors,” Hammack said. The search for tutors is not limited to respective church members. “Probably a third of the tutors for Greystone through Chapel Hill are not from our church.” Anyone can choose to help a Whiz Kids program at a location convenient to them. Hammack said the biggest challenge is finding people to commit to tutoring for two hours once a week.


Hammack said that she has witnessed the most beautiful relationships between the tutors and pupils. “It’s not like you just see the kids one time and help them,” Hammack said. “It’s every week, and you also develop the relationship with the parents.”


Penner also believes it is the relationships that makes the difference. “We find that almost one hundred percent of the parent’s surveys that get returned are, ‘this has been wonderful for my child and I want them to continue to do it,’” Penner said.


Penner said she would advise first time tutors to come see that it’s nothing to be nervous about. “Shadow one of the tutors,” Penner said. “Come at the time that we start, see how it works and sit with somebody and see how they interact with the child. It’s rewarding.”


Anyone who is interested in more information about serving as a Whiz Kid’s tutor or a substitute should contact Chapel Hill.


“We never quit trying to get another tutor, because the minute we get another tutor, you can pair with through the year with another child,” Hammack said.


The Kaiser Elementary School program at The Church of Pentecost USA is on Thursdays 4:00-5:45pm.  Their training day is August 23, at 4:00pm. Tutoring begins Thursday, August 30.  The church is located at 3106 N. Utah (west of Portland and south of 36th) Oklahoma City, OK.


Chapel Hill tutors the students at Greystone Upper Elementary on Tuesday afternoons. Training day is Tuesday, September 4, at 3:00pm and tutoring will begin Tuesday, September 11, at 3:00pm. The church is located at 2717 West Hefner Road, Oklahoma City, OK 73120.


Volunteers must be 18 years or older to tutor. For more information contact Chapel Hill United Methodist Church at 751-0755.

String Compositions to Receive World Premieres at Chapel Hill

david janssen.jpg
David Janssen
Daria Janssen

Two works for strings by composer David C. Janssen will receive their world premieres at a concert on Sunday, August 19, at 2:00pm in the sanctuary. Daria Janssen, cello, will play the first performance of the full work, Suite for Cello Solo. Ai-Wei Lee, violin, and Robert Bradshaw, cello, will perform Duo for Violin and Cello. Everyone is invited to attend the concert, followed by a reception. Composer David C. Janssen has written a symphony, string quartets and works for piano. His compositions have been performed in New York City, Boston, Prague, Rochester NY, and Oklahoma City, as well as Grand Teton National Park. His choral works include a Christmas motet for Canterbury Voices. He is currently the co-director of a concert series called Art Made Audible, which pairs new music with new and pre-existing art. Dr. Janssen received his D.M.A. in composition from Boston University, M. M. in composition from Manhattan School of Music and B. M. in composition from Oklahoma City University. Daria Janssen, David’s wife, is a versatile performer and educator. Her musical training began at the Kharkiv Special Music Boarding School in Ukraine. She holds an Undergraduate Diploma with Distinction in Cello Performance from longy School of Music, Bachelor of Music degree from Emerson College and Master of Music degree from Boston University, where she is currently completing her doctoral work in Cello Performance. Daria collaborates with her husband in premiering, editing and recording his works as a cellist and pianist, as well as performing with the Freisinger Orchestra and as a substitute cellist for the Boston Ballet Orchestra. David and Daria Janssen and their two daughters, Kristina and Vivian, reside in Boston. David is the son of Dr. Tom and Cyndy Janssen.