A new school year can be exciting and a bit overwhelming, even for teachers and other school employees. For them, preparing for the year ahead involves so much more than shopping for new notebooks, shoes and Levis.
There’s also the stress of wondering how and if the various programs in their district will be funded so they can continue to provide the highest level of education for their students.
So, annually, the Peninsula School District and the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce kick off the start of a new school year with Partners in Learning. The program began five years ago as an opportunity for chamber members, educators, administrators, staff and community leaders to get acquainted, and for educators to understand what local businesses have to offer as the school year begins.
Partners also is a fundraiser, a chamber project that has annually provided needed funding for transportation and admission to Junior Achievement classes at JA World in Auburn, where students gain real-world experience in a mini-city setting.
Fifth-graders attend JA BizTown where — after a period of in-class instruction — they learn how to manage a personal bank account and interview for and learn about jobs that range from accounting and medical professions to TV and newspaper reporting.
School district eighth-graders attend JA Finance Park, where they take on a fictional adult’s life for a day and learn to make financial decisions based on the persona they assume, whether it’s a single mother with a high school education or a college-educated father of three.
In this hands-on simulation, students come to understand the importance of making sound financial decisions throughout every phase of their lives.
The chamber’s financial support has become a key element to ensure there are no out-of-pocket costs for students so no child is excluded. Our goal this year is to raise $7,500 through the Partners in Learning event to offset the school district’s transportation and admission costs for nearly 1,400 students who will attend JA World during the 2013-14 academic year.
The Partners event also is a great way for the business community to salute our educators and their administrative and support groups. More importantly, it helps to remind them just how appreciated they are, and it demonstrates the support provided by chamber’s member businesses.
“We are very lucky to be in a community like Gig Harbor, where we have strong support for our education system and the important role of all education employees,” PSD Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said.
This year’s event will be held Aug. 29 at Gig Harbor High School. The first 25 businesses to sign up will meet and greet school district employees and distribute handouts and supplies that represent the products and services they provide. Items such as cloth book bags, T-shirts, pens, pencils, notepads, snacks and more will be among the giveaways.
Besides local businesspeople who attend, Tacoma Community College also will have a table with outreach materials and TCC staff members who will chat with attendees about the many programs available to PSD students later in their educational process.
“This event is a great opportunity to let PSD educators and the business community know what’s going on at TCC,” executive director Janine Mott said. “We’ll have a table, and I’ll also have a few minutes to update participants about new initiatives on our campus that may be beneficial to students on the peninsula.”
We’re expecting about 750 educators, bus drivers, custodians and others from the district to attend. For more information, or if you would like to participate, call the chamber office at 253-851-6865 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.Warren Zimmerman is the president of the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce, which is located at 3125 Judson St. For more information, call 253-851-6865 or visit www.gigharborchamber.com.