Cassville elementary invites businesses to join program

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Business as Partners gives locals the chance to be involved in education

Cassville teachers are reaching out to connect elementary-aged children with local businesses during this school year, and in more ways than one.

The purpose of the Business as Partners program is to keep local businesses involved and informed of the learning process. Teachers are not asking businesses for monetary contributions, but rather, for involvement in education.

"Throughout the year the kids will do fun things for the businesses and the vice versa," said Cassville Chamber Director Brittany Farris.

Businesses can participate in different ways, like having someone in the business visit the classroom to read a book, talk about the business or attend a school activity, such as a class party, field day, music program, eating lunch with the class and other activities. A teacher will contact the business and send a classroom newsletter, art project or a picture to introduce the class to the business.

"The classes take art work and seasonal activities to the businesses and they usually display them in their business so others can see what we are doing at the primary level," said Evelyn Gieseke who works on the partnering committee. "The businesses come into the classroom to tell about their business and often do an activity with the class."

Primary School Principal Catherine Weaver said the partnering concept has existed for at least 22 years in the building.

"It's a partnership between our school and community," she said. "One of our social studies objectives, as defined by the state, is teaching our little ones about careers. By having that partnership, it allows us a two-fold thing. One, it helps us entrench our students in the community, and two, it helps our business have contact with our students and gives our kids a chance to give back."

Weaver said the concept at the school preceded the state's objectives, because the district values education and its link to businesses and the community.

"It not only allows our local business community to learn more about and be involved in the education of its youngest school students, but also gives our students the opportunity to learn more about different occupational and career choices," she said. "The Missouri Department of Education recognizes the importance of career readiness for all students beginning in kindergarten. Partnering with our area businesses creates the opportunity for our students to learn firsthand about different occupations and how they operate.

"The Business as Partners concept itself is not necessarily targeted solely to primary students, just our Business as Partners program. As a building, we tailor the interaction to meet the needs and expectations of our primary-age students. Sometimes, students have the opportunity to visit their business partners and get to see the company as it goes through normal operations.

"It also gives students the opportunity to be able to give back to those businesses in recognition when they make cards or posters to share with them."

One advantage for businesses, Weaver said, is the opportunity to influence younger generations and be involved in forming their education.

"Businesses are also afforded firsthand experiences with their youngest clientele," Weaver said. "They have the opportunity to enrich our Cassville community through impacting its future professional leaders. It has aptly been said, the students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Businesses have the opportunity to directly impact the future by enriching our students today."

Other buildings administrators throughout the district utilize a similar concept.

"We use Missouri Connections with seventh and eighth-graders," said Amy Cole, middle school counselor. "The state says all students have to have a five-year [career] plan, with four of those in high school, but we start in eighth grade. We used to do a career day, but we've gotten to point where there's so much instruction that needs to take place it is hard. It's been about nine years since we've done one."

Cole said she remembers a partnering program called Partners In Education (PIE) in Columbia, where a business could partner with a certain school or grade and do similar activities.

"I would love to see the school do PIE and divide the grades out amongst the businesses interested," she said. "I can see the importance of that, even just those connections."

"The closest thing we have to a partnering program is Tomorrow's Leaders Today that was formed last year," said Michelle Johnson, high school counselor. "Mindi [Artherton] put it together. I think we have 10-15 seniors that go out to an area business once a month and spend the day there."

If businesses are interested in partnering with the primary school, they should respond by Sept. 11 by emailing Gieseke at egieseke@cassville.k12.mo.us.

"The only cost for a business to join is that involved in sharing a little of your time and talents with our students," Weaver said.

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