The Partners in Education (PIE) program is a mutually beneficial collaboration between local businesses, faith communities, various non-profit organizations, and the Douglas County School System. The Douglas County Chamber is also a supporting partner in the PIE program, helping bring the community and schools together. Community-focused businesses and organizations participating in PIE select one or more schools to establish a relationship with and provide hands-on opportunities to share expertise, time, resources, and ideas to enrich the experience for students.
PIE recently kicked off the 2019-2020 school year with an ice cream social sponsored by GreyStone Power Corporation. Community leaders had an opportunity to share what their businesses and organizations can offer, and school principals, assistant principals, and counselors shared needs they have in their schools. Interestingly, the greatest area of need identified by school leaders is mentors for students.
Other needs identified by schools include job shadowing opportunities, internships for high school students, guest readers for younger students, judges for competitions, and volunteers for mock interviews.
“Community leaders and school leaders work together to determine their level of involvement,” said Vonda Thorpe, chair of the PIE Board. “Each partnership will be different, and that’s part of what makes the program so special. The PIE Board and Chamber o Commerce help connect organizations and schools, and then we leave it to them to plan their partnership for the school year.”
Ms. Thorpe went on to explain that the program’s goal is not for the schools’ benefit only. “We want to promote the participating businesses and organizations within the entire school system and community. Our goal is to have mutually beneficial partnerships where schools are strengthened and businesses and organizations get the recognition they deserve for giving back. And we all know that when schools are strong and successful, our entire community benefits.”
Andrew Dickinson is associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) and a member of the PIE Board. At the ice cream social, Pastor Dickinson spoke of the partnership FPC has with Eastside Elementary School. The church has provided volunteers and refreshments for field days, sponsored field trips, given hand-knitted caps to students, and sponsored awards events for the school’s intramural sports teams. Pastor Dickinson said when a church is a partner, many people would think the giving would be one way, but the school has done a lot for the church. School staff have volunteered at a prom the church hosts for adults with special needs and student dance groups have performed for the church. “The partnership goes two ways,” said Pastor Dickinson, “and it’s very rewarding for both groups.”
To learn more about becoming a partner in education, visit the school system’s home page at www.DCSSGA.org, and look for the PIE tab at the top.