Partners in Education: School, community group kicks off year

·2 min read

Sep. 18—VALDOSTA — Brenda and Russell Hassenstab, owners of Kona Ice of Lowndes began their sixth year as Community Partners in Education.

For more than five years, they have been doing the Super Student Program in Lowndes County and Valdosta City Schools.

"We love being involved in so many schools and making a difference in children's lives," Russell said. "The main reason that we have been involved with our Super Student Program is to help support children and the PBIS Programs in Lowndes and surrounding counties."

Brenda said, "We have such great relationships with the schools. The teachers and students are always so excited to see us when we come."

Brenda and Russell are also involved in surrounding school districts such as Colquitt, Tift, Cook, Hamilton and Suwannee counties.

Community Partners in Education has more than 425 partnerships that play a role from spending an hour each week tutoring a student in reading to landscaping a schoolyard, to making presentations on career readiness.

Each year, CPIE hosts a kickoff event for businesses to meet Lowndes County and Valdosta City School coordinators which share their ideas for the school year.

Andrea Bridges, Lowndes High teaching as a profession coordinator and work base learning instructor, has been CPIE coordinator for four years.

"We appreciate the businesses that not only donate money but more importantly taking time to understand the needs and desires of our teachers and students," Bridges said.

She said throughout the years partners have hosted life skills classes which include proper introductions, interview skills and basic career readiness.

JoAnn Stone, S.L. Mason Elementary School CPIE coordinator, is ready to work with new and longstanding partners.

"Throughout the years, we've had great partnerships that have extended outside of school hours," Stone said. "We are excited to have our partners back in schools and working with students and teachers."

She said CPIE is a true partnership which allows schools to give support to multiple local businesses and industries.

Lunch for the kickoff event was sponsored by community partners Bojangles, Chick-fil-A on North Valdosta Road and Captain D's.

Anyone interested in becoming a business or individual sponsor, should contact Lauren Pope, Lowndes County Schools system coordinator at (229) 316-1810, or Jennifer Steedley, Valdosta City Schools system coordinator, at (229) 671-6065. Or contact the school coordinator.