Partnership 2000 is a “business in education” program created in 1988 to lower the county’s dropout rate.
Business partners provide time and money to improve the education of local youth through educational incen-tives and teacher appreciation.
Partnership 2000 coordinator Buffy Hemphill described the end of the year as bittersweet.
“This year, more than ever, I had to put things in God’s hands,” Hemphill said. “As the year draws to a close, I realize there is never reason to doubt God has blessed this community with the most remarkable business partners, schools and individuals that we could ever hope for.”
She also praised several “mentors” present for the event. About 150 individuals serve as positive role models, working with students who have been targeted as at-risk for future behavior problems and dropout. Partnership 2000 also serves the school system by providing volunteers to work in the classrooms, read to students, help with school projects and provide professional insight. Students who excel academically and behaviorally are also rec-ognized and supported through a Leadership Academy division of the program.
After 20 years, Partnership now consists of more than 200 partners.
Winners of the awards this year are:
Church/civic Partner of the Year: Boynton United Methodist Church
Social Service Partner of the Year: Georgia Hope
Small Partner of the Year: Babb Lumber Company
Medium Partner of the Year: Graphics Hair Design
Large Partner of the Year: Northwest Georgia Bank
New Partner of the Year: Giggle and Grow
School Partnership Program of the Year: CHASYN (Creating Healthy and Strong Youth Now), sponsored by the Performance Learning Center
System Partner of the Year: Phil Summers and the Catoosa County sheriff’s department
Denia Reese, Catoosa County school superintendent, closed the ceremony by elaborating on this year’s theme, “Catoosa County’s Businesses, Lighting the Way.” Reese compared the mentors and partners to a quote by Michael Strassfeld.
“ ‘Light gives itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return. It gives of itself and it is not diminished,’” Reese said. “Each year you freely give your time and financial resources without expecting any-thing in return. I hope you realize you are lighting the way for students to graduate from high school and have a bright and promising future. Because of you, more students are walking across the stage and shaking my hand as a graduate of Catoosa county schools.”