Luncheon recognizes Partners in Education

PARKERSBURG – A couple hundred students, educators and business leaders mingled Friday afternoon at West Virginia University-Parkersburg for the 2013 Partners in Education luncheon.

Jill Parsons, president/CEO of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce, said more than 280 teachers, students education officials and business leaders attended Friday’s “Preparing for Tomorrow” luncheon, representing every school – both public and private – in Wood County.

The luncheon was supported by Kraton Polymers and held at WVUP. It was emceed by Larry Holdren with Peoples Bank.

Dave Lewis, with WesBanco, recognized the new partners in education. Since the program started in 1984, Lewis said it has been about “businesses being involved to help kids.”

He noted nine new business partners: Wharton Auto Group at Jefferson Elementary; First Neighborhood Bank at Madison Elementary; Peoples Bank at Martin Elementary; Advantage Bank at Neale Elementary; Frontier Communications at Edison Middle; Camden Clark Medical Center and Gaskets, Packings & Seals at Parkersburg Catholic High; Pepsi at Parkersburg South High and National College at Adult Basic Education.

“Partners in Education takes many forms,” Parsons said. She said partners provide financial assistance and human resources to the education community.

“They read, or work a carnival table, or bring lunch to teachers,” she said. “Schools reciprocate with artwork and beautification projects. With older children there is mentoring.”

Parsons said one of the more popular mentoring programs is done by Woodcraft, which conducts mock job interviews with fifth-grade students and has them shadow workers.

“Fifth grade and they are already starting to be in the business community,” Parsons said. “The kids love this program.”

Lisa Ketchum, development director for the Education Alliance, delivered the opening remarks. She highlighted the importance of businesses mentoring educational communities.

“It improves attitudes, schools and increases performance,” she said. “Partnerships can truly make a difference.

“I applaud the commitment to Wood County Schools,” Ketchum said.