Valdosta Daily Times

Business

June 9, 2013

Business and Philanthropy: Education

VALDOSTA — Getting right to the point: Education is important.

We might all disagree about charter schools vs. public schools, about the role of tenure, teacher performance standards and everything else, but no one argues against the importance of education, an importance which can’t be overstated.

Look at the national level, where investments in a nation’s education influences national productivity. Or the local level, where quality public schools help make cities and states more economically competitive. Or the individual level, where study after study has shown education leads to higher wages and increased employment stability.

Which leads us to CPIE, or Community Partners In Education. Started in 1990, CPIE is a local organization that brings together businesses, groups, organizations and individuals with the common goal of supporting schools, teachers and students.

Every year, CPIE coordinators conduct a needs assessment in each school to determine the needs of their schools and teachers.

At the beginning of a new school year, partners meet with the coordinators and teachers of the schools, with the assessment serving to inform them of each school’s needs.

While it would be impossible to mention all of the more than 400 members of CPIE in this article, discussing what they do as a whole serves to illustrate CPIE’s importance in the community.

“Many of our partners choose a school,” said Lynne Wilson, Lowndes County School System coordinator. “They may choose the school closest to them or they may choose two, one in the city and one in the county. Others might have a child or grandchild in the school they choose. And then some choose to be PALs (Partners-At-Large) and help every school.”

The businesses involved range from locally owned, such as Greek Row which focuses on providing incentives for students, such as T-shirts and bicycles for perfect attendance, to multi-national companies, such as Starbucks, which works with several schools to award Teachers of the Month with free coffee for a month, or Chick-Fil-A.

Other companies focus on supplying the teachers, students and schools. Take Smith Drug Company, for instance, which provides school nurses’ offices throughout the county with the basic medicines they use the most: aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. It’s not something that springs to mind when you think school supplies, but it’s just as important as the pencils and paper.

And there’s plenty of that, too.

“Southeastern Federal Credit Union drove up at the beginning of last year with a truck full of paper,” said Jennifer Steedley, Valdosta City Schools public relations director. “They looked at our needs. With the budget cuts schools have had to make, teachers are limited in the number of copies they can make.”

“We’ve chosen to align our giving with educational causes, such as CPIE, because the quality of our local education affects the entire community we serve,” said Lori Cauley, with SFCU. “We believe in the right to an education and strive to assist our educators in providing a quality education to our community’s children.”

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