The Waxahachie Independent School District Partners in Education organization honored local businesses and individuals at a luncheon Wednesday for their dedication to help further the education of students.
According to the Partners in Education website, its goal is to encourage parental and community volunteer involvement. During the 2014-15 school year, more than 4,000 individuals volunteered their time for a total of 71,000 hours. Each year more than 300 businesses contribute to WISD through donations, incentives and volunteers.
“We are very fortunate here in Waxahachie to have an outstanding group of community volunteers, local businesses, organizations and individuals that care about young people and the quality of education being afforded to them. It has been widely demonstrated that great things can be accomplished for young people when the community and schools become partners in education,” said Vivian Gibson, Partners in Education advisory co-chair. “In return, we hope that their investment of time will reap benefits beyond measure, lasting memories and greater understanding of the business of educating students. The Partners in Education has outstanding support on every WISD campus though the work of volunteers who give so freely and graciously of their time.”
During the luncheon volunteers were asked to stand up and be recognized for their volunteer hours of service. Volunteers had served anywhere from 100 to 1,000 or more hours.
Businesses from every corner of the city were then recognized and given a certificate of appreciation for helping children succeed.
School principals from around the district then recognized a business or an individual who has made a tremendous impact on their campus. Here’s what the principals said about each:
•Clift Elementary principal Christi Kubin honored Spencer and Kristen Rutenbar of Disaster Consulting.
“At Clift Elementary, we have a number of students who are economically disadvantaged. So sometimes are needs are different then other campuses. Several years ago, another business helped us start an inventory of shoes to help students borrow during physical activates like physical education and thing like that,” Kubin said. “Over the years, our inventory has depleted. Spencer and Kristen joined together with their children and got a list of sizes that we needed, came back to the school and put them in the inventory. We really appreciate them doing this for our kids at Clift Elementary.”
•Dunaway Elementary principal Jenni McLemore recognized Adam Rope from State Farm.
“We were contacted over the summer by Adam and his wife Brana about doing a bike giveaway incentive for attendance and good grades each nine weeks. We started that this year. We have given away three so far. We just put the kids’ names a drawing and made it a big deal. There have been more attendance improvements each time we have done it,” McLemore said. “The very first giveaway, we had a third grade girl who own. After all the celebration, we bring them to the front office to call their parents. We got her on the phone and the minute her mother said ‘hello’ she started sobbing. That shows what a big deal it means to our kids and everything you do makes such a difference in our kiddos lives.”
• Felty Elementary principal Carrie Kazada recognized Scott and Julie Davis with S&L Lawn Service.
“Mr. and Mrs. Davis have helped us since the day our doors opened eight years ago. They have done so much for us. Since we opened eight years ago, we have had 10 trees donated to our campus. Mr. Davis just does not donate the tree every year. He comes and digs the hole, plants the tree and brings around 20 kid-sized shovels. They get to go out and help plant the tree,” Kazada said. “Last year, he even donated a tree in honor of Mr. Tom Collins who used to be our superintendent and planted the tree outside of Mrs. Collins’ classroom window. He also helped to start our Dad’s at the Door program with our councilor Ms. Andrews. He still continues to come every Monday at 7 a.m. and opens the door for kids and gives hugs, smiles and high-fives.”
•Marvin Elementary principal Ora Frazier recognized Academy Sports + Outdoors the generosity shown to the school this past December.
“Marvin Elementary is another campus with a high number of low income students. We started last year at Christmas “To You with Love,” giving gifts to our students. Last year, we had an abundance of toys. This year it was looking a little scary. Teachers bought toys out of their own personal funds. Then I received a call from the Academy with 30 bikes to giveaway. I just want to thank them. One simple gesture means a would to some students.”
•Northside Elementary principal Jennifer Burns praised the support by Farley Street Baptist Church.
“Pastor (Larry) Wood reached out to me and shared his desire to come along side our campus and support us throughout the school year. As a result, they have had many opportunities. They have provided treats, coffee. They had a back-to-school teacher luncheon for us and they have even come on site and complete teacher needed requested projects through the year,” Burns said. “ Pastor Wood has indicated that they can call on him any time that we have a need. They truly came to the rescue this year, providing many of the supplies for our Northside University enrichment clubs.”
•Shackelford Elementary principal Lisa Mott honored Ta Molly’s Mexican Kitchen.
Throughout the year, restaurant representatives have offered refreshments for parent involvement, events, teats for teachers and other giveaways to enhance school programs. The biggest event that the restaurant partners with is the school’s fifth grade ambassador program, which teaches leaderships skills.
“Fifth grade students are selected for their leadership skills. Every morning for 30 minutes, they have jobs around our campus. They might be working with students with reading, helping out in the library or in the office,” Mott said. “We are trying inspire leadership with our fifth grade students. It is a culminating event. We take a field trip to Ta Molly’s, where they graciously show us the interworking of the restaurant and we also invite in business members from the community. We have small group discussion with our students and that business member. It is their chance to ask questions about what it is like to own their own business.”
•Lynda Solis, the principal at Wedgeworth Elementary, honored First United Methodist Church of Waxahachie builder’s class.
The group has been supportive and consistent in helping third grade students and teachers through the Adopt-a-class program.
“The impact that this group has made on our students has been amazing. They are faithful. They are loyal. They loving and kind. They even dug into their pockets when we were having our Leukemia Society coin drive,” Solis said. “I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart.”
•Adan Cass, the Finley Junior High principal, honored Home Depot for its donation of supplies, plants, soil, trees and tools to help rebuild the school’s greenhouse after it was vandalized.
“When I got hired by the district, we had some issues with our greenhouse. Coming into this community and the district, I was very impressed with everybody who joined in to help put our greenhouse back in order,” Cass said. “Home Depot reached out to Finley and said, ‘What can we do to help the greenhouse and rebound from some vandalism?’ We were shocked from everything that they provided.”
•Howard Junior High School principal Jacob Perry recognized the efforts of The Avenue Church.
Volunteers from The Avenue worked to remodel the school’s teachers’ lounge, providing not an updated look, but with amenities such as a Keurig Coffee maker.
“Each year, The Avenue has event called ‘Be the Church,’ where members of the church go out to businesses and schools all over Ellis County and have service projects. We were lucky enough to have a group come to our campus and do a project for us,” Perry said. “When they were talking with me about what we needed, I was having a hard time because I am not accustomed to people reaching out asking ‘Can we do something nice for your school?’ They came in and totally redid the place. They put together some really nice goodie bags for our teachers. It is an awesome place for our teachers to go eat lunch now.”
• Ninth Grade Academy principal Brad Andrews recognized the efforts made by Christ the King Lutheran Church.
Christ the King members provided staff luncheons during teacher appreciation week. They maintained a food closet and kept it stocked for students in need and provided Christmas gifts and food for the Night of Wonder event.
“Each one of us knows that not all our kids come to us with not everything that they need. We have students that are hungry and that need to be fed. We have students that don’t have the right kind of clothing when the season changes,” Andrews said. “This year, Christ the King Lutheran Church, they adopted us as a campus.”
•Waxahachie High School principal Al Benskin shared his appreciation of H-E-B.
During the year, H-E-B employees helped different organizations within the school through their contributions.
“H-E-B, we are proud to have you as our partners,” Benskin said. “When we need something you are always there for us. Thank you.”
• Global High School principal Ken Lynch thanked Dr. Marc Roux for his guidance throughout the year.
“Early on this year, Dr. Marc Roux reached out to Global. Global High School has had a robotics program since 2007. This year, when I became the principal at Global, we decided to expand that and try to build a robotics program throughout the district,” Lynch said. “We were at one of the football games trying to show off the robots and Dr. Roux saw us out there and invited us to the hospital to name their new robotic arm. They got to play with it. It was just a great building experience.”
Lynch thanked Roux for helping to jump start the robotics competition season, which had the best year to date with a seventh place win against national and international teams in San Antonio.
• Robert Woodhouse, the Waxahachie High School of Choice and Challenge Academy principal, thanked First Baptist Church.
The church adopted the school by providing food and support to students and teachers. Woodhouse thanked the church members for their continued support.
Following the presentations Gibson and presented The Partners in Education Special Business Recognition Award. The award recognizes the business that has gone above and beyond to benefit the entire school district. The award went to the Rotary Club of Waxahachie.
Pike said what the Rotary Club does by supporting Operation First Day of School with its book drive is part of the Adopt-a-Class program and many of its members taking part in D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read), a day dedicated to showing students the importance of reading. The club members also support both Waxahachie High School and Global High School’s Interact Clubs and provide student scholarships.
Superintendent Jeremy Glenn shared the same thought expressed by Gibson and Lynn Pike, the other advisory co-chair, that the service provided by volunteers is invaluable to the district.
“Our goal in Waxahachie is to become an educational destination. In order to accomplish that goal we have to have strong community partnerships,” Glenn said. “That is why we are here today to celebrate those who give so much time and effort to make Waxahachie a great place to learn for our kids.”
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