Partners in Education

Daily Point of Light # 1327 Mar 5, 1999

The purpose of Partners in Education, a partnership between the Lynchburg City Schools and the Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce, is to provide an umbrella program under which human, material and financial resources can be identified and managed. In addition, the program serves to encourage community interest, involvement and active participation in the educational programs offered through the Lynchburg City School System.

The program provides a structured approach to tapping resources in the community. It is designed to encourage broad community involvement and to raise awareness that a quality public education system directly impacts on the economic development and growth of the community. Each master partnership agreement is specifically designed to target identified goals and objectives of the division, school or specific program area.

The Partners in Education program started officially on September 4, 1990. The joint initiative of the school division and the Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce resulted in a program to expand educational opportunities for students and an opportunity to link community resources with the school system. The program has enjoyed steady growth in the number of master partnerships being developed and an increasing depth of commitment and involvement by each partner.

Agreements are developed by planning committees of school and business/partner representatives and are based on identified needs and resources available. At this time, more than 105 master partnership agreements, each unique in design, have been established.

The wide variety of partnership participants and diversity of activities allows more than 9,325 students in the division to benefit either directly or indirectly from the program. With more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service, parents, college students, business representatives and others take an active role in supporting many partnership-sponsored programs and activities. All parties have reported that being involved in the partnership program has been both a positive and rewarding experience.

Employees who served as mentors, tutors and presenters and in many other roles felt a real sense of personal satisfaction and pride as a result of working with students. Partners proudly displayed student artwork, writing samples, letters and photos of employees with students, and invited students to tour partner facilities and to have student groups perform at partner meetings, socials, and special events.

Teachers and principals feel a greater sense of community involvement and support as they help prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. This opportunity to work together, to seek creative ways to enrich educational experiences for students, has built a bond of trust and a better understanding between schools and businesses. As a result of the program, teachers, counselors, and principals are better informed about the economic base of the community, how academics are applied in the workplace and are better informed about the needs and concerns of those outside the school division.

Programs are serving a wide range of needs and are offering an opportunity for the community to take an active role in helping educate students. Many goals have been achieved as a result of the partnership program. These include the design and development of a dental careers program and lab facility, playground construction and school site improvements, new technology labs and modules, establishment of a dedicated science lab at an elementary school, after school tutoring programs, development of teaching and instructional units, intergenerational opportunities for children and adults to work together, internships for students, teachers, counselors, increased parent participation, improved student attendance and behavior, volunteers working with students, more than 300 senior partners participating in the Senior Partners Program, full scholarships for students participating in the accelerated learning project, field trips and tours, donations including computers, performing arts presentations, special programs for at-risk children, and a speakers bureau resource for teachers.