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For Immediate Release — May 17, 2010 | Americas
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PEACHTREE CITY, GA — May 17, 2010 — Although they’ve won the Partnership of the Year award in the past, this year’s honor is just as rewarding and exciting. McBride Elementary School, at Fort Benning, GA, and its partner, the 192nd Infantry Brigade, competed with more than 80 schools in the tri-county area and 196 partnering agencies, surrounding Columbus, GA, for the top honor.

More than 450 people gathered to celebrate at the Partners In Education (PIE) Annual Awards Banquet recently in Columbus. Schools submitted awards applications documenting their partnership accomplishments during the 2009-2010 school year, according to Dana Whaley, PIE program manager, with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. These applications were evaluated by an independent panel of judges.

Whaley said that one judge described the dynamics and success of the partnership between McBride Elementary and the 192d Infantry Brigade saying, “So many powerful programs and opportunities here, all magnified by the personal commitment of these partners to spend time interacting with the children. What a blessing for all involved. And all accomplished while we are a nation at war. Congratulations!”

“What a night!” exclaimed Dr. Dell McMullen, Georgia/Alabama District Superintendent, with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools(DDESS)/DoDDS-Cuba.) “Our schools and our amazing, supportive military partners brought home the gold, as they won award after award at the Partnership of the Year Banquet.”

Two of the three Project of the Year awards went to Dexter Elementary School and its partners, 1/10 Field Artillery and the 1/29th Infantry. They won for their Reading Ranger Program which embraced the PIE’s Success Factor #1 – Improving Academic Performance. They also took the prize in Success Factor #3 – Enriching the Life Experience of the Students – for their 40th Anniversary Celebration of Dexter Elementary.

Dr. Matthew Kralevich, Dexter Elementary School Principal, is new to DoDEA and is quickly learning about how vital the military partners are to the students, the staff and the school itself. “Completely understanding the Partners in Education program is nearly impossible without experiencing it first hand. For me, discovering the magic of the program did not occur until we had a few moments to exhale and reflect on the year of events. While there were a few events that took an enormous amount of planning, there were the others that relied on the commitment and consistency of several people,” Kralevich said. “The reward of a quality partnership is to witness students light up with energy when they know that our partners will be coming or they get to experience a special event co-sponsored by our partners. To reciprocate, it is exciting to hear our partners tell me that they love to come by and spend time with our students. After experiencing a successful year with our Partners in Education, it invigorates me to think about what lies ahead.”

All the Fort Benning schools were recognized as Gold Winners. Three of the top 10 schools from the region are from Fort Benning: McBride ES and the 192d Infantry Brigade; Dexter ES and the 1/10th Field Artillery; and Wilson Elementary School and the HHC 197th, the 199th Infantry Brigade and the 2/11th Infantry.
The partnership between McBride Elementary and the 192d Infantry Brigade has four main initiatives: Leadership Academy, Army Values Instruction, the Mentoring Program, and Partners and Adopted Learners (PALS). “In addition to these on-going programs, the school and Brigade introduce new projects each year to keep the partnership fresh,” said McBride Principal Phyllis Parker. “Our two projects this year are our Valued Veterans Program and the “Every Child a Writer” initiative. The latter was developed to support one of our Continuous School Improvement (CSI) goals for 2009-2010: All students will improve expository writing skills across the curriculum.”

Partners In Education is a program of The Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce which began in 1987 as a joint venture with the Muscogee County School District. Originally known as “Adopt-A-School,” its purpose was to improve education by stimulating meaningful business and community involvement in public schools. To date, more than 200 partnerships exist amongst 88 schools in five school districts.