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Schools, businesses help each other in area

By Bayne Hughes · 340-2432

Is it businesses helping schools or schools helping businesses in the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce’s Partners in Education program?

All agreed Tuesday at the annual Partners in Education Breakfast at Priceville Elementary School that the program is mutually beneficial for Decatur, Hartselle and Morgan County schools, and their business partners.

The breakfast recognized 43 schools and their 45 business and industrial partners in one of the longest running Partners in Education programs in the state.

West Morgan High Principal Bill Hopkins said his school receives money, remedial materials for the graduation exam and technology from his school’s partner, Nucor Steel Decatur. Nucor sponsors the school’s Student of the Week award.

Oak Park Middle School’s Dwight Satterfield said his teachers copied close to 40,000 pages last year at his school’s partner, General Electric. The company also supplied refrigerators. GE employees speak to the students and help with the annual raft race.

Hopkins compared the school’s business partner with its athletic booster club.

“When I was a football coach, I always figured I could supply the basics and the booster club would provide the extras,” Hopkins said. “I look at our partner in education the same way, and we try not to take advantage of their generosity.”

Operations Manager Brad Blackmon said Wayne Farms looks at its partnership with Brookhaven Middle School as a chance to give back to the community and help develop a future work force that could benefit his company.

“We’re able to support 700 kids in getting their education,” Blackmon said. “And we hope a lot of them come to work at Wayne Farms.”

OCI Chemicals, a company that manufactures sodium percarbonate (the active ingredient in powder detergent), is a new partner with Banks-Caddell Elementary. Amy Slayton of OCI said the company was looking for a way to get its employees involved in volunteerism.

“Our human resources manager saw it as a way to branch out past our United Way donations and other fundraisers,” Slayton said.

Slayton and co-worker Cindy Franks met with Banks-Caddell Principal Wanda Davis to discuss ways to help the school. They said they discuss reading buddies and helping with science experiments and computer classes.

“Our partners in education are extremely important to our school, and they let the school know that we’re getting community support,” said Davis, whose school is also a partner in education with First Baptist Church.

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