Aug. 24, 2018

Richie named reading coordinator

Phyllis Richie, a longtime local educator, has been named coordinator of Readers and Leaders, a Duncan Public Schools program sponsored by the United Way of Stephens County.

The program matches volunteers with teachers in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade classes for 30-minute reading sessions each week.

“Ms. Richie has impeccable credentials,” Zac Pogue, chairman of the United Way board of directors, said. “She has loads of library and reading experience, knows the Duncan system, is well organized and has an energy level that will easily transfer into our program.

“There is little doubt she will maintain the quality of Readers and Leaders and she will certainly add new ideas through the school year.”

Plans are to launch this year’s program the week of Sept. 17.

While several last year’s readers will return, several spots remain open and available. Interested readers should contact the United Way office at (580) 255-3648 or at

Richie assumes the coordinator’s role previously held by Patty Jennings, another veteran Duncan teacher who started the original program, but has had to step down for health reasons.

Richie’s background is unique.  For 31 years, she was the district media director for Duncan Public Schools with responsibility for eight elementary schools, training assistants at each school and overseeing installation of a new library system.  Before that, she taught eighth grade Civics in the Chickasha Public Schools and worked with students at the Jane Brooks School of the Deaf.  She has a master’s degree in Instructional Technology/Library Media from the University of Central Oklahoma and completed her bachelor’s degree in history and geography at Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts (now USAO) in Chickasha.

“I am so excited to be back in the classroom helping young people,” Richie said. “It is a blessing, one for which I am truly grateful.  “Nothing,” she admitted, “is more important than a child’s ability to learn to read, to communicate and to comprehend and the opportunity to work with teachers, volunteer readers and students is simply a wonderful opportunity for me.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the United Way’s Readers & Leaders program, contact the United Way at (580) 255-3648 or at




The United Way has taken the lead on programs that will help advance the common good.


June 17, 2017

Planning for Readers & Leaders, a volunteer program aimed at helping improve reading skills and enjoyment in the lower elementary grades of Duncan area schools, has begun.

Coordinated by the United Way of Stephens County, the program pairs volunteer readers with participating Duncan pre-K, kindergarten and first grade classrooms.

Volunteers, who read once a week for 30 minutes to full classes, small groups or individuals, assist students in the development of listening, speaking, reading and comprehension skills, modeling a joy of reading and enthusiasm for learning.

“We’re excited to continue a program that has already proved meaningful for our young people,” Patty Jennings, who returns as coordinator for the program, said. “Nothing is more important than a child’s ability to read and to communicate.

“Through our program, Readers & Leaders will provide overall consistent encouragement and support. And our readers will offer that extra bit of exposure to a lifelong skill linked to reading, literature, literacy, self-confidence and academic performance.”

Jennings, a Duncan native and Cameron University graduate, is a retired educator who taught 15 years in the Duncan Public Schools System. She was named teacher of the year in 2009 and continues her work as organist and pianist at First Christian Church and piano teacher for the Douglass East Side Senior Citizens Center.

A number of volunteers from previous years will continue in the Readers & Leaders program, Jennings said, but the need for additional participants is an immediate and significant goal.

“There is nothing more rewarding than to help a child,” she said. “Readers make a positive difference, even to the point of changing a life. We are anxious to match students, mentors and teachers and our hope is to expand our efforts so more young people can benefit from the opportunity.”

While she suggests volunteer participation is ideal for service and study clubs, civic organizations and churches or businesses interested in community support and involvement projects, individuals are also encouraged to get involved.

A training program will be provided all volunteers.

For additional information, contact Jennings at or call the United Way office at (580) 255-3648.


FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Ed Darling, United Way of Stephens County, (580) 255-3648.