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Area businesses partner with schools to help children become eager to learn.
Bruster's serves ice cream to Wilderness Elementary School students for reading during the summer.
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Date published: 9/13/2005
Area businesses are partnering with schools to give students incentives to learn. And to provide high-fives to the teachers who help those students.
"It's really neat because a lot of time they are there to provide incentives for the students when they achieve goals in the classroom or achieve goals in the schools," said Sara Branner, spokeswoman for Spotsylvania County Public Schools.
And it goes beyond things.
Several of the business partners allow employees to spend work time tutoring in the schools. "They also are immersing themselves in the classroom and working with the students. Or they come in as speakers," Branner said.
The partnership doesn't end within the walls of the school, either. "Some of our schools have been building playgrounds and some of the partners help," she said.
Around 250 businesses have participated over the years, Branner said. Those businesses range in size from small mom-and-pop operations to large chain restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse in Central Park.
Outback has shared a special relationship with John J. Wright Middle School.
"Part of our marketing plan is to be community-involved, because if you are good to the community, the community will be good to you," said Suzette Hoffman, a regional marketing representative for Outback. Her husband, Dave, was proprietor at the Central Park location, which is the 30th busiest Outback in the country. Dave Hoffman was recently promoted to a venture partner and has been given new responsibilities and a different area to shepherd.
At Outback, the educational program extended beyond the classroom, Suzette Hoffman said. Children would be invited in to see how the business is organized. "We concentrate on the economics of the business," she said. "We teach students responsibility" and how tough it is to manage a restaurant.
But it was the little incentives, such as the joey card program, that meant the most to the students. The joey card provides a meal on the house for students who have excelled in reading, virtues, attendance, or whatever aspect of learning the school is focusing on. "It's the easiest program to do and it's the one that, honestly, you get the biggest thanks and appreciation from," Suzette Hoffman said.