Columbia Public School Celebration

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COLUMBIA - Residents celebrated 27 years of the Partners in Education program Thursday evening, despite the downpour of rain.

The event kicked off with performances by the Mid-Missouri High Steppers, the Seventh Grade Award Band, and the West Boulevard Elementary School choir. Speakers included Mayor Bob McDavid, Columbia Chamber of Commerce chair-elect Vicki Russell, and Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher.

However, the celebration was about more than just the 27 continuous years of the program's existence. It was about how much of an impact Partners in Education has on the community. The program's goal is to bring schools and businesses together to share resources, enhance student learning, and even further economic growth.

Superintendent Belcher said in the past year, the partnered businesses have contributed more than 380,000 hours in service to the public schools. After figuring in a person's average salary, Belcher said this means the businesses have provided $7.8 million dollars of service to Columbia Public Schools.

In addition to the actual ceremony, local businesses participated throughout the week by sending representatives to teach in classrooms and read to students.

School board member Jonathan Sessions said while the program allows students to gain experience outside the classroom, "it also represents hours and hours of volunteer work done by these community partners in our buildings with our students. And those are the kind of things you just can't buy."

The celebrations ended with a flag parade around the Columbia College gymnasium.

To see the list of businesses who currently participate in the program click here.