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Partners in Education about more than monetary aid

Last Modified: Saturday, April 06, 2013 6:53 PM

By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Calcasieu Parish schools have been able to receive extra support by connecting with area businesses though the Partners in Education program.

Businesses can assist schools with monetary contributions, but many choose to provide volunteer services, classroom supplies and gift rewards for students.

The Calcasieu Partners in Education program started in 1988 with a collaboration between the school system and The Chamber/Southwest Louisiana.

Mary Beth Huber, the district’s Partners in Education coordinator, said the first school to participate in the program was College Oaks Elementary.

Other schools and businesses caught on to the idea, and the program took off. Originally, partners had to go through the chamber but now most schools deal directly with any organization or business that wants to support them. There is no formal application process and schools simply send in the basic information on their partner to Huber to be put on file.

According to information from the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the program “affords opportunities for the community, businesses and schools to instill a sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to students in all schools.”

Business and education partnerships are designed to improve education quality throughout the parish.

Huber said there are no restrictions on how many partners a school can have. Schools and businesses may partner up based on several factors. Huber said one of the most common reasons businesses choose a school is location. If a businesses is close to a school, it can make it more efficient for both sides to work together.

“Another common link is when a business owner, or employees of a particular business, will partner with the school in which their own children are attending,” Huber said. “Typically several businesses and industries will partner with more than one school.”

Businesses, such as City Savings Bank, choose several schools to join up with individual offices.

City Savings Marketing Coordinator Matthew Bowls said geography plays into what schools the bank chooses because locations closer to a branch can provide more people from the company that can actually visit the school.

City Savings recently expanded into Grand Lake, and Bowls said one of the first items on the agenda was to partner with Grand Lake High School.

Schools can also apply for a business to partner up with them. Many times this consists of the principal visiting a particular business to see if there is an interest in the program.

“It varies in the district how it’s done,” said Oak Park Elementary Principal Melinda Hardy. “For us, every partner that we’ve had at College Oaks, we sought them out.”

An example is one of the school’s newest partners, Coyote Blues. Hardy said that when the building for the restaurant went up she stopped by to speak to the manager about the possibility of becoming a partner.

The manager liked the idea and, because it was also close by, said yes to supporting the school.

Personally reaching out to businesses has left positive results for the students and staff of College Oaks, which now has 15 partners.

There is no average number of partners designated throughout the parish.

Schools like St. John Elementary and Gillis Elementary have more than 10 partners. S.P. Arnett Middle School and Vinton High have one partner each. Some schools have no partners.

Superintendent Wayne Savoy said the school system doesn’t have an exact number of partners a school must have. He said school population and each school’s individual needs are factors in how many partners they may be joined up with.

“We don’t necessarily expect every school to have the same amount of partners,” he said. “We’re not trying to see who has the most partners we’re just trying to see that everyone has a partner.”

Vinton High Principal Mitch Manuel said about five years ago, during his first year as principal, a business had shown interest in being a partner but backed out of the agreement. The high school’s sole partner, PPG Industries, was connected to the school before Manuel became principal.

He said that after the previous business did not follow through he has not applied for other partners. Manuel said the School Board has done everything necessary to support schools and that the school should be responsible for finding partners.

“I really believe it’s up to the principal if they want more Partners in Ed,” he said. “I don’t think it would be up to the School Board to supply that.”

As of now, Manuel does not intend to apply for more partners and said he is happy with the services PPG has provided. When the school awards students for academic achievements the business has defrayed the cost. Teachers can also apply for supplies they need in their classrooms.

PPG employees have made visits to classrooms to speak to students about their career. Manual said he would like to implement more of this interaction during a career day by in turn sending students out to the plant to shadow employees to learn about a trade or particular process.

Huber said partners contribute in various ways depending on what their built-in capacity might be. Besides financial support, schools have received supplies ranging from pencils and paper to computers and student incentives such as gift certificates.

“The goal that we have as far as helping schools is not just necessarily writing a check for these schools we want our people to actually be involved,” Bowls said. “Anything that we can do to be involved with schools and children is always a plus for us.”

Bowls said that if students are learning about money management or anything bank-related, employees will go to the schools to assist in teaching. During teacher appreciation week, the bank will send out volunteers to serve food or help in any area school staff need. They have also sponsored school events.

Sam Hebert Financial Group, which sponsors College Oaks Elementary, has been involved with the school’s hearing-impaired program. Hebert’s wife Denise has a hearing impairment and has found that the program is a way to connect and mentor these children.

Hebert said that along with offering services through mentoring the company has tried to provide the students with gifts. He has made efforts to collect toys students can take home with them. In the future he said he would like to put on a seminar for students about effectively communicating with one another.

Huber said schools have made the program a two-way street by giving back to their partners through choir or theater performances for staff and customers or decorating business lobbies or offices for holidays.

At the end of the school year, a district luncheon is held to celebrate what the businesses and schools have accomplished together. Hardy said this has also been a beneficial way for principals to understand the most successful practices when joining and working with a business. This year’s event will be on May 9.

Savoy said the system between the schools and their partners has worked out well with schools receiving the help they need.

“It means a lot that they get involved in the kinds of things the schools need,” he said. “The partners have been very supportive of our schools and I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with the businesses which work with those schools.”



Schools without a Partner for the 2012-13 school year

Brenda Hunter Head Start, Lake Charles-Boston Academy, STEPS High School, Lake Charles Charter Academy, Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy.



Complete List

Partners in Education for the 2012-13 school year. Information provided the Calcasieu Parish School System.

Public Schools

(S.P.) Arnett Middle School — Entergy.

Barbe Elementary — Women’s Shelter, Excel Paralubes, First Baptist Church of Lake Charles.

Barbe High School — Davison Catalysts.

Bell City High School — Clean Fuel USA/Empire of the Seed, Painting with a Twist, Sweetlake Land & Oil.

Brentwood Elementary — Northrup Grumman, O’Charley’s, State Farm Insurance.

Calcasieu Alternative School — Citgo.

Clifton Elementary — Southwest Louisiana Center For Health Services, United Christian Fellowship Ministries, Westlake Group.

Clifton Head Start — Joe Miller Sr.

College Oaks Elementary — Albertsons, Iberia Bank, Cancun Mexican Restaurant, Clarks Good Eats!, Coyote Blues, First Federal Bank of Louisiana, First National Bank, McAlister’s Deli, McDonald’s, Rain CII Carbon, Sam Hebert Financial Group, School Aids, Wright Plumbing Services, Ryan’s Family Restaurant, Lake Charles Toyota.

Combre/Fondel Elementary — Todd Clemons & Associates, Combre Funeral Home, Health Systems 2000, Don Harris State Farm Insurance, J. Walker & Company, Leonard C. Breda III APDC, Whitney National Bank-Westlake, Simien Law Firm.

(T.S.) Cooley Magnet — Nissan of Lake Charles, LyondellBasell.

Cypress Cove Elementary — CSE Federal Credit Union, First National Bank, Global Industries, Kajun Monograms, Neighborhood Mini Storage, Cameron Communications, Stine Lumber.

DeQuincy Elementary — Kenny’s Katfish Depot, Wise Ideas Printing and Promotions.

DeQuincy High School — Brookshire Brothers, City Savings Bank of DeQuincy, Popeyes, Temple-Inland Southwest Louisiana Lumber.

DeQuincy Middle School — City Savings Bank, Christensen Funeral Home, Kellogg Electric, The Pentecostal Church of DeQuincy, Perkins Pharmacy, Smith Pest Control.

DeQuincy Primary — Brookshire Brothers, City Savings Bank, DeQuincy Masonic Lodge No. 279.

Dolby Elementary — Saundra A. Bridges Real Estate, Home Furniture, McDonald’s, Walgreens.

Fairview Elementary — Cameron State Bank, Lake Charles Toyota, Nissan of Lake Charles, Sonic Drive-In, Walmart, Wendy’s.

Frasch Elementary — Carl Vincent State Farm Insurance, Innovative Expressions, Turner Industries.

Gillis Elementary — 7-0 Electric, City Savings Bank, Misty Waters Nursery, Gillis Grocery and Meat Market, Melanie Perry State Farm Insurance, Myrtis Mueller Realty, The Drug Store, Soileau Family, Melanson Equipment Repair, Custom Metal Fabricators, WebTronics.

(W.T.) Henning Elementary — Steamatic of Southwest Louisiana, CertainTeed, Checkers Drive-In, Jeff Davis Bank, Kajun Monograms.

Henry Heights Elementary — Alcoa Primary Metals, Jeff Davis Bank, McDonald’s Corporate Office, Raising Cane’s, Texas Roadhouse, Kiwanis of Lake Charles.

Brenda Hunter Head Start — None.

Iowa High School — Farmers Rice Milling, Jeff Davis Bank, McDonald’s.

(J.J.) Johnson Elementary — Cox, Cox, Filo & Camel, J & J Exterminating, Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services, Suddenlink.

Kaufman Elementary — Chris Gaudet State Farm Insurance, Sam’s Club, Suddenlink, Gulf Coast Carpets & Decorating Center.

Kennedy Elementary — Black Heritage Festival, King’s Funeral Home, Louisiana Radio Communications.

(E.K.) Key Elementary — Citgo.

LaGrange High School — Aeroframe Services, ConocoPhillips, PPG.

Lake Charles-Boston Academy — None.

LeBlanc Middle School — D&L Diesel Services, Southern Ionics, Tarver Ford.

Jake Drost Head Start — Flavin Realty.

LeBleu Settlement Elementary — Central Crude, LA Tank, Custom Blinds, Farmers Rice Milling.

(W.W.) Lewis Middle School — Carl Vincent State Farm Insurance, Chemical Waste Management, City Savings Bank.

Maplewood Middle School — Access of Louisiana Federal Credit Union, Billy Navarre Chevrolet, Ellender’s Portable Building, Innovative Expressions, Marilyn’s Catering & Flowers, Mathnasium, Rick Fitts State Farm Insurance, United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit of Lake Charles, Walgreens, Westlake Chemical.

Molo Middle School — Baggett, McCall, Burgess, Watson & Gaughan, New Beginnings, KZWA 104.9-FM.

Moss Bluff Elementary — Beauregard Electric Co-Op, Brandon Bellon Development, Coca-Cola, Jeff Davis Bank, Melanie Perry State Farm Insurance, Meyer & Associates, Richey’s 3-D Foam Insulation, Service Tire & Auto of Moss Bluff, Sonic Drive-In.

Moss Bluff Middle — Dwight Law Firm, Firestone Polymers.

(A.A.) Nelson Elementary — Jeff Davis Bank, Outback Steakhouse, Jim Mitchell State Farm Insurance, Stine Lumber, Walgreens-Lake Street, Papa Murphy’s, Women & Children’s Hospital.

Oak Park Elementary — Jeff Davis Bank and Trust Company, Centerpoint Energy, Church of the King, Todd Clemons & Associates, Agave Tamale, Nissan of Lake Charles, Starbucks, Lake Charles Copy.

Oak Park Middle School — Trunkline LNG, Whitney Bank.

Positive Connections — Gallagher Risk Management Services.

Prien Lake Elementary — Century 21 Bessette Realty, Chick-fil-A, Gill Animal Hospital, Trunkline LNG/Trunkline Gas, Josh Rogers Catering, Walmart-Nelson Road.

Reynaud Middle — First Federal Bank of Louisiana, New Life Church International, Mr. T’s Miracle Hand Car Wash & Detail Services, Walmart, The Dwelling Place, Nissan of Lake Charles.

Sam Houston High — PPG.

St. John Elementary — A.K. Newlin, Albertsons, American Press, Cintas, Dore Energy, McAlister’s Deli, National Networks, Targa Midstream Services, School Aids, Scotty Mathews State Farm Insurance, South Lake Charles CrossFit, The Firm of Louisiana-Barry Terrell, CMC Recycling, Nina P’s Cafe, Primerica Financial Services, Home Furniture, Walmart.

Starks High School — Nichols Dry Goods, Starks VFW 4759 & Ladies Auxiliary, White Way Enterprises.

STEPS High School — None.

Sulphur High School and Ninth Grade Campus — Citgo.

Vincent Settlement Elementary — Brookshire Brothers, Cameron Communications, Iberia Bank, Rain CII Carbon, Targa Midstream Services, Westlake Group.

(R.W.) Vincent Elementary — Air Liquide, American Construction & Electric, A Total Tee, Business Health Partners, Iberia Bank, Chris Duncan Agency, Innovative Expressions, Jeff Davis Bank, Lake Area Office Products.

Vinton Elementary — Georgia Gulf.

Vinton High School — PPG.

Vinton Middle School — Ronnie Johns State Farm Insurance.

Washington-Marion Magnet — Louisiana Pigment, Zion Tabernacle Baptist Church.

(T.H.) Watkins Elementary — Jeff Davis Bank, King Enterprises, Levingston Engineers.

(J.L.) Watson Middle School — Burger King, Christine Bailey State Farm Insurance, Farmers Rice Milling, A Daisy A Day Flowers & Gifts, Jim Bill Disposal, Stine Lumber.

Pearl Watson Elementary — Ned Brothers Clothing, Schlesingers Maintenance.

(S.J.) Welsh Middle — Albertsons, Iberia Bank, Coca-Cola Bottling Lake Charles, Crawford Orthodontics, Domino’s Pizza, Flavin Realty, Home Depot, J & J Exterminating, Mathnasium, Sonic Drive-In.

Western Heights Elementary — Sasol North America.

Westlake High School — Air Products, Bobby Letard Shelter Insurance, Iberia Bank, Confer Creel Foundation, Phillips 66, Custom Metal Fabricators, King Architects.

Westwood Elementary — Sasol North America.

(F.K.) White Middle — City Savings Bank, Prudential Elite Realty, Putt-Putt Golf and Games.

(Ralph) Wilson Elementary — Capital One, Georgie Porgie Barber & Beauty Salon, Dave McCarty State Farm Insurance, Master Clean Auto & Truck Wash.


Private Schools

Hamilton Christian Academy — ReCon Management & Engineering.

St. Theodore Holy Family Catholic School — Women & Children’s Hospital.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral School — Navarra’s Jewelry & Gifts, Open Air MRI, Port Printing & Ad Specialties.

Our Lady Queen of Heaven — PPG.

Our Lady’s School — CertainTeed, City Savings Bank, Innovative Expressions, Shaw, Southern Engraving, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.

St. Louis Catholic — Bolton Ford, Christus St. Patrick Marketing Department, The Children’s Clinic.

St. Margaret Catholic School — A Daisy A Day Flowers & Gifts, C.J. Ardoin II DDS, Data Systems, Ken Conners Service Tire & Auto.


Charter Schools

Lake Charles Charter Academy — None.

Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy — None.

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