The Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce orchestrated a Partners in Learning event Thursday, making business booths available to Peninsula School District employees after a district-wide back-to-school at Gig Harbor High School.
Chamber President Warren Zimmerman launched the program five years ago with the help of former Superintendent Terry Bouck.
“We wanted an opportunity for our business members to show their support and thank educators,” Zimmerman said. “It’s also a way to show which local businesses are available for teachers and their families. The Peninsula School District is one of the largest employers in the area, so it made sense.”
More than 19 businesses attended to provide information, giveaways, food and more.
“I have been involved in all the years this has been available,” said Cathy Endres, UPS Store owner. “It’s a great event that allows me to give back to the community. I love giving to the teachers and helping kids.”
Endres and her store provided 100 free copies, gift certificates and discounts to school district employees as a thank you for their service.
Voyager Elementary teacher Rhonda Haug appreciated the booths.
“The business partners show how we can work together for the benefit of the kids,” Haug said.
The event was not held last year due to school district budget cuts and no paid time available for school district employees.
“It’s great to have the entire district here this year,” Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said. “Not only the teachers, but all employees.”
“It’s important for small business to support schools and teachers, especially after budget cuts and higher class sizes in place,” American Family Insurance owner Tim Lopez said. “Teachers have to spend their own money for classrooms. I want to give back to the teachers who do so much for our kids.”
Lopez gives boxes of pencils for classrooms. He also has free giveaways and provides information about insurance plans throughout the year.
Businesses also donated funds to cover transportation costs for the Junior Achievement program known as Biz Town that fifth- and eighth-grade students attend in Auburn. To date, businesses have donated more than $5,600. The goal of $7,500 will cover the round-trip.
Lopez is a staff mentor at Biz Town.
“The program sparks interests for the future and what they may want to do in college,” he said.
Tacoma Community College also has a strong presence at the event.
“The Gig Harbor campus has large population of peninsula students,” said Janine Mott, the executive director at TCC-Gig Harbor. “It’s a great way to share information with teachers and strengthen relationships.”
School Board President Wendy Wojtanowicz thanked community businesses for being at Partners in Learning.
“This is a fun and energetic event,” she said. “It’s a great way to kick off the new school year with chance to have the schools and businesses partnering together to support our students.”Lifestyles Coordinator Kim Eibel can be reached at 253-358-4152 or by email at email@example.com.