Plainville schools host community breakfast

Webster Bank mentor Prashanth Narayanan, left, oversees Ameer Alhameedawi, center, at the Middle School of Plainville during National Mentoring Month in January. On March 13, both were invited to a breakfast to thank school volunteer programs like this.

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

Plainville Community Schools thanked and honored their partners throughout the community by hosting a school-business-community partnership breakfast on Wednesday, Mar. 13, at Plainville High School. Organizers promoted the breakfast, hoping it becomes an annual event.

“We are not just the school system,” said PCS superintendent Maureen Brummett. “We are the community, and we have got to partner with our community neighbors to make sure that we are having collaborative work done for our students.”

Brummett said that many of the organizations and businesses that have partnered with the schools “are our future employers for our kids.” By hearing from potential employers, first hand, what skills they require in their workforce, Brummett said the district can “make sure we’re headed in the right direction with our students.”

Sue Bradley, director of the PHS career center, who also runs the district-wide volunteer program, and Lynn Davis, PCS director of community relations, explained that the partnership model stemmed from the 2016 updates to the district strategic plan.

Davis said one of the goals during that process was to “expand mutually beneficial partnerships” will all stakeholders, such as community organizations and businesses, community members, and more.

The partnership between Webster Bank and the mentoring program was highlighted. Webster employee, Jay Brennan, described the program as “the model program” that should be “featured nationally.” He began mentoring about 15 years ago, and due to his work with Plainville, now helps to organize the program on Webster’s end.

Webster employee Prashanth Narayanan said that he looks forward to his mentoring time every week, describing the time as “so rewarding and enriching” for himself as well as his mentee, Ameer Alhameedawi.

“The companies need to come forward and provide this opportunity for everyone,” said Narayanan. “It take a lot of effort to put together a program like this and to keep going at it so consistently.”

Also highlighted was the GoBabyGo! and GoKidGo! programs. This partnership between Central Connecticut State University, Plainville High School, and the Middle School of Plainville, allows students from all three schools to collaboratively renovate child ride-on toys for children with mobility disabilities.

Dr. Michele Dischino, CCSU associate professor of technology and engineering education, explained that she learned about the program, which originated from the University of Delaware, by watching the nightly news. After pitching the idea to one of her colleagues, they traveled to Delaware and successfully introduced GoBabyGo! to Connecticut.

About a month after CCSU’s first GBG! build, Bradley contacted the university in the hopes of having technology and engineering students host a program at PHS. One of Dischino’s students suggest bringing GBG! to Plainville, and from there, the partnership blossomed. The Plainville Schools even adapted the program to introduce GoKidGo!

“And that has been my experience, I cannot say enough good things about Plainville Community Schools. I can’t tell you how many times I tell other school districts about Plainville, and how they have just embraced this idea of using technology to solve real world problems,” said Dischino. “Plainville has wildly exceeded any expectations I might have had when I wanted to bring this program to Connecticut.”

Paula Eshoo, principal of Linden Street Elementary School, took amount to thank Bradley and Davis for their efforts to make collaborative projects—like the Linden Street greenhouse—built by Gary Fett and Fluid Control Systems – possible at every Plainville School.

Davis and Bradley shared different ways that community members and groups could partner with the district, including making donations to the Innovation in Education Foundation (housed at the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain), hosting a job shadow for high schoolers, offering internships or apprenticeship opportunities, speaking during the annual Career Day event, donating school supplies, holding book drives for specific grades or schools, volunteering to become a reading partner, mentor, or tutor, and many more.

To learn more about the Plainville Community Schools School – Business – Community Partnership opportunities, contact Davis, (860) 793-3220 ext. 6111 or davisl@plainvilleschools.org, or Bradley, (860) 793-3220 ext. 6110 or bradleys@plainvilleschools.org.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.