Officials celebrate Partner in Education program

PARKERSBURG – Students, educators and area business representatives gathered Wednesday for the 29th annual Partner in Education Luncheon at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

The luncheon honors the school and business partnerships designed to bring services and opportunities to Wood County students. About 250 people attended the event.

The Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley formed the Partner in Education program in 1985, and Wood County was the first county in the state to have 100 percent of its schools partnered with area businesses.

“We’re very pleased to see the business community realize the value of having such a close relationship with education in Wood County,” said Jill Parsons, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Each of the 27 public schools, the technical center, the adult education center and the four private schools in Wood County have at least one business partner. Some schools have several business partners.

“This year’s theme is ‘The Power of Partnership,'” Parsons said.

To emphasize that theme, Parsons said this year the luncheon focused on team-building activities, such as a tower building activity.

“Every team and every partnership is different,” she said. “It’s all about how your team comes together to accomplish a goal.”

Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of school services for Wood County Schools, said the program allows for greater connections between local businesses and the schools. Often those businesses are owned and staffed by people whose children attend local schools, as well as people who want to support and give back to their community.

“It is a tremendous advantage in both directions,” he said.

Depending on the partnership, businesses can provide a variety of service to schools and students, from job shadowing and tutoring to sponsorship and providing manpower and judges for science and social studies fairs, he said. Some businesses have brought programs to school, ranging from teaching about finances to helping students learn engineering concepts to developing classroom curriculum.

“It is a wonderful program,” Fling said.