Chamber prepares for annual Partners in Education Breakfast

Photo provided

Partners In Education Committee members, from left, John Koons, Erica Millar and Leslie Christopher pose for a picture at a previous PIE breakfast.

The Norman Chamber of Commerce announced its August date for the annual Partners in Education Breakfast.

The breakfast is presented by the Norman Chamber of Commerce to connect local business representatives with school representatives.

"The program exists to connect businesses with schools by giving businesses the opportunity to have meaningful interactions with schools," said Leslie Christopher, co-chair for the PIE. "We want to provide schools with much needed support, and we want to use the time to inspire everybody to be creative in their partnerships."

The PIE committee helps facilitate these connections by matching the identified needs of each school with a chamber business partner. This gives the business partner a chance to assist with things such as reading, mentoring, judging spelling bees and other areas of need.

"What the chamber is focused on is having businesses assist schools with their time instead of donating goods and money," said Christopher. "This program is about giving businesses a way to provide a more hands-on role in their schools and community."

John Koons, co-chair of the PIE and OG&E employee, is familiar with how businesses can get involved.

"I know businesses are anxious to help in their community, but sometimes they don't know to get involved," said Koons. "I have learned that as important as financial support is, what businesses can really do to make the most impact is by having a presence in the classroom and the school building. It's about just being there for the kids."

Another goal of the program is to create an event that is mutually beneficial for schools and businesses. The committee is dedicated to improving the quality of schools because of the benefits it has for the community.

"We know that when schools are great, it helps in everything in Norman," said Christopher. "Quality schools help improve the economy and help attract people from outside of the Norman area. At the end of the day, we want a well-educated workforce, and that starts with the schools in the community."

Koons said an enjoyable aspect of the breakfast is getting to see the children he mentored mature and become adults in the community.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been at different events in Norman and somebody recognized me as 'Mr. Koons from their second-grade class'," said Koons. "There's nothing better than making the difference in a kid's life."

This year's breakfast is set for Thursday, Aug. 9, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m at the J.D. McCarty Center. For more information or to sign-up for the breakfast, contact Erica Miller at erica@normanchamber.com or contact the chamber at 405-321-7260.