Oklahoma City’s Bright Light in East Side
On the east side of Oklahoma City is a 9-acre plot of land, a little wooded paradise that’s home to Little Light Christian School. What’s distinct about the private school’s location is that it is also smack dab in the middle of the zip code with the worst incarceration rate in Oklahoma.
But that’s exactly what Robin Khoury wanted.
Khoury launched Little Light Christian School nine years ago as a private, tuition-free school. Its doors are only open to an exclusive group—children whose parents are or were incarcerated.
“Our mission is to break the cycle of generational incarceration, and we do that in a number of ways. We don’t charge the kids tuition to come here,” Khoury said. “What we have found is that these kids are struggling with a lot of different things—anxiety and depression and learning disabilities, and they have all been exposed to the trauma from being separated from their parents.”
Little Light Christian School is now enrolling for the fall. In 2012, six students filled the roster for the first class, but this year the staff of now 20 teachers will welcome 45 students. Khoury said she has learned much in the past eight years about helping these students thrive. A consistent schedule and a calm environment are vital to making the students feel safe, she explained.
“We come alongside them and allow them to detox from all the stress they have been exposed to. We have destressors built into our program—green plants in each classroom, a big emphasis on art and music because we know these things can be therapeutic, and lots of play and games,” Khoury said, adding that she’s thrilled to be teaching an art class this fall. Her academic calendar involves pottery, slab rolling, making beads, and classical works of art.
To further offer safety to the students, every classroom hosts a calming corner. Students who feel stressed are welcome to enjoy the warm and cozy seat, look at books, utilize the stress balls, hold a stuffed animal—whatever makes them feel secure. The school’s therapy dog, a 60-something-pound poodle, also comes on a regular basis to spend time with the students.
Khoury said the dream for Little Light Christian School started 20 years ago, when she jotted down a simple thought in her journal, that she would one day run a school for needy children.
A hairdresser turned homeschool mom of two sons, it was a dream that seemed far-off, she said. But she kept that journal, and as creative ideas would come to her for how to run the school she’d write them down. Years later, she volunteered with a prison ministry where she learned that the very first thing that happens when a child’s parent goes to prison is that they begin to struggle in school. The next day, she incorporated Little Light Ministries, which three years later became Little Light School.
“It has not been easy all the time,” Khoury said, adding that when she launched Little Light Christian School, she had absolutely no funds. She recounted the miracle of the donation of $1.6 million from Jasco Giving Hope Foundation, which allowed them to move to their current location.
“I don’t think there are any words that can express what this school has done for my children,” said Nina in a video interview with Robin Khoury. Nina’s daughter and son attend Little Light Christian School. “Coming out of incarceration and not being able to give our kids everything we want to get them—not being able to send them to private schools, this has made it possible for them to have something different than what society gives them. If it wasn’t for this school, they would not be where they are today.”
Khoury said she’s thrilled to be launching this school year and cannot wait to welcome the new students and families. “We are a Christian school so we are christocentric in everything we do,” Khoury sums. “We are not a legalistic school where we have do’s and don’ts. We are all being transformed by the power of Christ together, and we know that the Lord works through rich, educational environments many times to help people. That’s what we are all about.”