Partners in Education Hits 30 Year Milestone

Partners in Education Hits 30 Year Milestone of Community and School Partnership

Unbelievably, some school districts operate without a collaboration between businesses and schools. WFISD’s Partners in Education program, with 321 PIE Partners, is one of the state’s strongest.

Here, district PIE Director January Cadotte discusses how PIE has endeared itself to the community during the past 30 years and what it’s like today.

 

Q: First off, the Partners in Education program’s mission has NOT changed.

A: Right. We’re connecting businesses and organizations to WFISD schools, helping them find their way to help our schools. We’re building relationships between businesses and schools.

Q: The program has grown over these 30 years.

A: It sure has. We started with 35 PIE Partners who dedicated themselves to serving a school or schools in whatever way they could. Eighteen of those original PIE Partners are still serving today.

Q: How many PIE Partners does WFISD have today?

A: We have a record number 321 PIE Partners today. We have PIE Partners at every school. Some schools have as many as 20.

Q: So what’s new and different about Partners in Education?

A: The scope of what PIE Partners do for their schools has gotten wider and wider and deepened. In the beginning, we listed out what PIE Partners might agree to do for a school: help with field trips, give a scholarship, sponsor an attendance program, allow career shadowing at their businesses, provide tutors, mentors, and speakers. It was limited to about 15 items.

Today, I really don’t think I could define what a PIE Partner does. Their gifts to our schools have ranged from making classroom doorway signs throughout a school to funding the refilling of the school’s Clothes Closet to providing teacher treats for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Q: How do you determine what a PIE Partner might contribute?

A: I like to sit down with someone who wants to be a PIE Partner and ask, “What does it look like for you? What resources do you have?” Then, after we’ve looked together at their particular situation, I say, “Let’s see what we can do.”  Their contribution to one or more schools can be super small or the sky is the limit. We can completely tailor it to their circumstances. I love to work with an individual, a business or an organization and make their role uniquely their own.

Q: The Partners in Education program also sponsors many WFISD events to serve children – and has done so for years.

A: Yes, the programs we sponsor have continued to grow, while some have gone away. We sponsor Youth Leadership, a multi-week training program for high school students that introduces them to community businesses and media operations. That’s been around for 23 years. Our Senior Send-Off program provides hundreds of graduating seniors with 17 seminars to help them navigate practical decisions after high school. That program is 13 years old.

Six years ago, we launched a homegrown program called Read 2 Learn. We coordinated hundreds of volunteers who visit second-graders weekly to read with them for 30 minutes. We want second-graders reading on grade level by third grade. That program has expanded to include a summer camp and branched out from the original seven schools to 15 now.

We’ve retired a couple of programs, such as Red Hot Radical Readers and Texas Scholars. We make changes to keep programs relevant and interesting to today’s students. The kids in schools today don’t have the same concerns or needs as  those who were in school 30 years ago.

Q: When I read the PIE Newsletter, I see that PIE Partners are getting so creative. What has fueled the creativity over the years?

A: Probably they get ideas on social media and in our newsletters about what other PIE Partners are doing. Our monthly PIE e-newsletters report many of the PIE Partners’ activities.

 

Q: How can an individual, an organization or a business become a PIE Partner? Is this a good time to join?

A: Oh yes. Any time is a good time, but we love to welcome in new PIE Partners as we move into another school year. I encourage anyone who wants to come on board to call me (940-235-1009) or email me (jbcadotte@wfisd.net). We can meet for coffee or I can stop by their office, and we can talk about how they envision their part.