Partners in education honored at luncheon

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Just as teachers need the support of their students’ parents, school divisions such as Franklin City Public Schools also look for the backing of individuals and organizations that want to invest in local education. 

Community partners do so not only through financial donations, but many also contribute their time and talents by reading to students or organizing opportunities to learn, an FCPS news release stated.

In deep appreciation of their many contributions, the “Partnership Luncheon with Flair” was organized this past summer and took place on Sept. 21 in the Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center. 

The glittering event was co-hosted by FCPS, Southampton County Public Schools, Suffolk City Public Schools and Camp Community College.

Looking around at the large audience, FCPS School Board Chairman Robert Holt welcomed everyone and called the gathering “an all-star group.” He stressed the importance of school partnerships, saying, “We cannot do that (educating students) without you.”

FCPS Superintendent Dr. Carlton Carter said the purpose of the gathering was to “honor our partners for their money and time they give, which helps ensure children will be career- and college-ready upon graduation.” 

He pointed out contributors such as the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Pastor Danny Dillon of Rock Church in the Hunterdale community and Teri Zurfluh of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Speaking of contributors, the superintendent thanked his executive assistant, Almeta Davis, for organizing the luncheon. Storybook Events and Traditions Catering & Events were also acknowledged for their setups and delicious meals, respectively.

Carter outlined his five goals for FCPS: get all three schools to become fully accredited; increase retention of faculty, staff and administration; expand the Career Technical Education program; establish year-round schooling for the elementary, middle and high schools; and continue to build community partnerships.

“We can’t do that without you,” Carter said to all the partner representatives in the room.

As alluded to previously, the event was not solely an FCPS project. Neighboring school divisions also joined in the tribute to partners in education.

Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, thanked all for attending the event, which she said “strengthens bonds” between schools and the communities they serve. The partnerships make for what Shannon called “a holistic experience that builds

a strong foundation for our schools.”

Dr. John B. Gordon III, superintendent of Suffolk Public Schools, said that the teamwork

between schools and partners should “look for what’s needed for students to be successful.” He

added, “When we support our kids, we support each other.”

Camp Community College President Dr. Corey McCray also told those partners in attendance, “We couldn’t do it without you. You’re an essential part of education.” 

He noted the importance of student successes, workforce preparation and community engagement.

In his concluding remarks, Franklin City Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins stressed the necessity of skilled labor for the city’s growth and quality of life.

Students don’t have to “make this journey alone,” he said. “We (the community) can become cheerleaders and mentors. When our youth understands that, they can remove restrictions and be provided opportunities with no limits.”