During a Partners in Education luncheon Wednesday, Lt. j.g. Jillian Hoffman, Ensign Steve Roth, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Williamson and Lt. Cmdr. Rachel Lewis, based out of Portsmouth with the Coast Guard, are honored for their work at Northern Shores Elementary School. They are pictured with Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Deran Whitney, district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, and, far right, Northern Shores Principal Tara Moore.
During a Partners in Education luncheon Wednesday, Lt. j.g. Jillian Hoffman, Ensign Steve Roth, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Williamson and Lt. Cmdr. Rachel Lewis, based out of Portsmouth with the Coast Guard, are honored for their work at Northern Shores Elementary School. They are pictured with Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Deran Whitney, district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, and, far right, Northern Shores Principal Tara Moore.

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School partners honored

Published 10:40pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Northern Shores Elementary School has an ongoing relationship that is doing great things for all of the concerned parties.

Volunteers from Coast Guard vessels Bear and Forward, both homeported close to the school in Portsmouth, attend Northern Shores twice a week.

Providing fourth- and fifth-grade math students in need of it with one-on-one tutoring, “(We) make sure they are up to speed with the rest of the class,” said Lt. j.g. Jillian Hoffman.

“Working with the children and seeing them learn is probably why I love it so much. You can just see the changes every time you go in.”

The Coast Guard was one of many groups helping out in Suffolk Public Schools that were honored during a luncheon at King’s Fork High School Wednesday for the district’s Partners in Education program.

About 145 businesses, churches, civic leagues and other organizations are involved in the program, including the Suffolk News-Herald.

They understand that a community’s strength is defined by the quality of its schools, district Superintendent Deran Whitney said.

“I just want to say thank you for the work that you do,” he said. “Please know that we do not take what you do for granted.”

The relationships, some of which have been ongoing for years and others only just beginning, are encouraging as the school system faces budget challenges, Whitney said.

“I’m encouraged because of groups such as you,” he said. “It’s obvious to me you see the link between quality education and economic development.”

The program’s success highlights how the district can approach things differently to achieve results, according to Whitney.

“It’s easy for us to get into that routine … where we always do what we have always done,” he said.

“As administrators, we need to consider what are we doing and what can we do differently.”

District spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw thanked businesses for continuing relationships despite pressures from the economic downturn.

“We know that as businesses … there are high points, where there are lots of employees, and there are low points,” she said.

“Even in the low times, when you haven’t had as many people, we really appreciate it when you have stuck with us.”

The payoff for the Coast Guard, beside seeing students perform better on tests, is the opportunity to reach out into the community, according to Hoffman — “bridging that gap,” she called it.

“It’s good to see that they are gaining an understanding of what the Coast Guard is about,” she said.

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