special to the sentinel

Partners in Education (PIE) is a nonprofit organization designed to provide a hands-on opportunity for local businesses and organizations to share their expertise, time, resources and ideas to enrich the academic experience for students in the Douglas County School System.

This year, PIE began a Partners of Excellence awards program to recognize businesses, religious organizations and other non-profit organizations that go above and beyond serving schools.

“We have great community support in our schools,” said Vonda Thorpe, 2019-20 PIE board chair. “I’m amazed at the creative things they do for our students and staff. Our board and schools wanted a meaningful way to say ‘thank you’ to these organizations, so we created the Partners of Excellence program.”

The program recognizes a winner at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Both GreyStone Power Corporation and MembersFirst Credit Union have partnered with numerous schools and were nominated by several schools at different levels.

“Because of all these two businesses have done for years on end, and since they received several nominations, the awards committee voted to recognize them as Partners of Excellence Legacy winners,” said Thorpe. “They have partnered almost every year PIE has been in place and have impacted thousands of lives.”

The Partner of Excellence winner for elementary schools is Ephesus Baptist Church. The winner for middle schools is Ameris Bank, Fairburn Road Branch. And the winner for high schools is Andrew Jordan of Connally, Jordan and Associates.

Factory Shoals Middle School is one of the schools that nominated GreyStone Power Corporation for a Partner of Excellence award. The application states that the company has sponsored annual field trips to the Georgia Aquarium, Tellus Science Museum and World of Coca-Cola. The company also sponsors in-school STEAM Day activities and various arts and crafts projects.

“GreyStone supports education because we’re invested in our community, and it is a reflection of our values,” says Gary Miller, GreyStone Power president and CEO. “We want to continue to partner with educators to help build future community leaders and engaged citizens.”

One of the schools nominating MembersFirst Credit Union for a Partner of Excellence Award is Alexander High School. The credit union opened a branch at the high school during the recently completed school year as an extension of the Financial Literacy and Accounting pathways. Several work-based learning students work at the branch along with a full-time credit union staff member. Having a working credit union branch at a high school that employs students and is available to students and school system staff is a wonderful benefit few high schools offer.

“As a Partner In Education, we measure our success by the impact we have on improving the financial literacy of our young people and giving them access to the financial tools and services they need now and in the future,” said Terry Hardy, credit union president and CEO. “Through our student-run Alexander High School branch, we are able to do all this and provide students with real life work experience. For us at MembersFirst Credit Union, that is success.”

Any business or organization in the Douglas County area is invited to participate in the PIE program. There are no dues or fees to become an active Partner in Education. The only thing needed is an interest in student achievement and the willingness to become involved in the program. Opportunities to participate in PIE are virtually unlimited. For more information, go to dcssga.org/p_i_e.