Congratulations and gratitude

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, May 10, 2014

There were 163 different partnerships between Suffolk Public Schools and businesses, churches and civic organizations around Suffolk this year. That’s 163 different organizations that worked to make a difference in education beyond the simple payment of taxes, 163 different groups of people who chose to take personal and corporate responsibility for improving the efficiency and efficacy of public schools throughout the city, 163 different examples of community participation toward a better Suffolk.

The school system celebrated those 163 different partnerships during an annual Partners in Education luncheon on Thursday. Participating business leaders, agency heads, church pastors and civic group members were thanked and congratulated for their involvement in the program and for their willingness to be role models for a generation of students.

Among the organizations represented at the meeting was the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which was recognized as the 2013-2014 Partner of the Year for its work with Elephant’s Fork Elementary School.

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This was the SRHA’s first year partnering with Elephant’s Fork, but its efforts reveal a staff that was engaged and interested in providing more than lip service to the partnership. The authority helped bring Elephant’s Fork teachers and families together in the neighborhood community center and encouraged other agencies, including Suffolk Public Library, the Suffolk Literacy Council, Parks and Recreation and the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, to get involved in the outreach.

Among the end results of the agency’s work on behalf of students at Elephant’s Fork: Almost 25 additional Elephant’s Fork families now have library cards and access to books, about 20 parents learned about local adult and family literacy programs and 75 children took part in on-site educational activities.

The SRHA set a fine example for community involvement in the school system, and its efforts already have begun bearing fruit. Congratulations and gratitude are both appropriate responses to the folks at SRHA. They did a great job, right out of the gate.