PEP CEO Message: 2019 In Review

Catherine SchumacherA few weeks ago, a 7th grader walked into the Public Education Partners office holding a mason jar filled with $72.14 in coins and small bills. She wanted to donate her portion of the proceeds from her family’s yard sale to Public Education Partners, in part because of a school project that focuses on service learning and how to support causes that she thinks are important. To have PEP and our commitment to advancing student achievement and public education here in Greenville County make this wonderful young woman’s list of worthy causes is humbling. But her act of generosity also demonstrates the capacity of public education to help children to be the engaged citizens of their communities we need to them to be!

Today, Public Education Partners is poised to have greater impact than ever before on students in Greenville County Schools, with a particular focus on students—and the teachers and schools that serve them—who need the most help to overcome systemic barriers that exist through no fault of their own.

Our work in 2019 reflected three strategic intentions: Elevating Teachers, Empowering Advocates and Engaging Communities.

  • We grew the #Teach864 movement by thanking and celebrating teachers at Greenville Drive games in April and September, with free tickets and other perks to let them know how much they mean to our community. New Teacher Roundtables and Teacher Forums are shaping our understanding of teacher needs both inside and outside the classroom as we advocate for education reform and investment.
  • We worked closely with the District to welcome and support the new GATE (Greenville Alternative Teacher Education) cohort, all of whom were called to teaching from another profession and are eager to share their real-world knowledge in science, math and foreign languages, in a creative solution to South Carolina’s teacher shortage.
  • We helped 18,000 students at 29 schools choose more than 200,000 books to build their home libraries through our Make Summer Count summer reading program, which research shows reduces learning loss among under-resourced children.
  • We launched InformEDsc.org, an innovative research website that provides powerful, real-time data to education leaders and advocates about a range of critical issues facing public education in Greenville and across the state. InformEDsc.org recently received the 2019 InnoVision Award for community service, demonstrating its groundbreaking potential to engage, inform and activate public education advocates.

Later this week we will close out 2019 by releasing Public Education Partners’ most comprehensive legislative and policy agenda in our 34-year history, an ambitious statement of PEP’s growing focus on policy and advocacy as a strategy for driving systemic change at the state and local level. We hope that our PEP family will use the agenda to become better informed about the issues and our recommendations, and then help us advocate for the change we know we need for our students and teachers.

Thank you for supporting Public Education Partners, and for raising your voice in support of public education and its critical role in building the community we want and need. From my point of view, a place where a 12-year-old girl cares enough about our schools to invest her own nickels, dimes and quarters in their future is a good place to start.