Archive | November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

All of us at Austin Partners in Education have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Our donors and funders make our dreams a reality and our work possible. We are so fortunate to have a shared mission of improving our community by supporting education. The people of Austin continue to amaze and surprise us with their commitment and generosity in  volunteering by the thousands. And the individual stories of student transformation come up daily as we work together in schools across the district.

It’s easy to feel gratitude. Especially when you get to know our volunteers. They give of themselves every week and, one student at a time, they change the world.

Spend this Thanksgiving getting to know one of our local heroes – Classroom Coach Bruce MacKenzie. Bruce coaches 8th grade Math and our College Readiness program. He recently attended an impressive ceremony at the Irwin Center where the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce named him our College Readiness Volunteer of the Year.

Double Bogie with Bruce MacKenzie on left and band mate Paul Grubb.

You may have already had the pleasure of meeting Bruce – he volunteers for numerous organizations here in Austin and he’s also getting attention with his band Double Bogie.

Congratulations Bruce, and Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We truly thank you. Today, and every day.

Meet 2nd grade Reading Classroom Coach Larry Oliver

Larry gets today’s Big Shout Out.

He showed up for his coaching session today with his right arm in a sling and his wife doing the driving. His curriculum notebook was tucked under his good arm, which unfortunately for Larry wasn’t the right one.

He had injured his rotator cuff during a vacation this summer to Michigan and Canada. When he went in for surgery Monday (two days ago) the tear was more severe than doctors originally anticipated.

Larry and his wife are retired and enjoy acting in local theater (she opens at the Vortex this weekend) and serving the community through volunteering. Larry is in his second year of coaching with Austin Partners in Education and typically misses one day a year for vacations. “I had missed a day this year and decided, well that’s it. I’m not missing two. So my wife drove me.”

He also volunteers as a mediator with the Dispute Resolution Center and works with Community Foundation to prepare tax returns for low income people.

All of us here at APIE want Larry to know we hope he’s feeling better soon, and we appreciate the extra effort.

IBM Volunteers Teach More than Math

Why are these engineers from IBM in a football huddle in a middle school hallway?ibm coaches in huddle

(a) Because they have a sense of humor. (b) Because they have a big idea about how to teach math to kids and are talking about it. (c) Because they are Classroom Coaches for Austin Partners in Education. (d) All of the above.

The correct answer is (d).

This week I got to meet the team of volunteers from IBM as they were heading into Math class at Burnet Middle School. What an impressive group of volunteers!

My initial interview started with Andrew Holle. Andrew, an engineer with IBM, volunteered as a Math Classroom Coach with us last year. This year a dozen of his coworkers are joining him as he starts his second year coaching.

Andrew is an easy guy to speak with. He’s super smart, informative, and friendly. Clearly, he has a passion for service. And, he cares about kids and education. What’s been a real win for Austin Partners in Education is that he’s not the only one at IBM who fits that description. Thanks to their corporate commitment, in additional to the extreme personal commitment of 13 volunteer coaches, an entire class of students at Burnet Middle School is going to have a good time this year learning math skills.

Jarom Peña, another member of the IBM team was born in the Rio Grande Valley, and as the middle child of eight, describes his upbringing as a true blend of cultures, personalities, education and ideas. His parents always focused on the importance of education and hard work. He explains why he coaches as, “I want to be a positive influence in the lives of these students. I like the idea of working with them on a regular basis over the school year. It gives us a chance to build relationships and open up channels of communication.”

Sandy Dochen, IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Manager (for Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana) used to chair Austin Partners in Education under its former model and name as Austin’s Adopt-a-School. He’s seen the need the teachers in AISD have for adult volunteers, and now he sees a team of smart and motivated corporate citizens ready to improve their community. Sandy’s coworker Beth Tracy, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Manager (for Texas and Oklahoma) has been instrumental in helping get the word out about our programs at IBM.

All of us at Austin Partners in Education wish to extend a big thank you to all of you at IBM. Please go to our website and read the Spotlight to learn more about Andrew Holle and Christy Feng, just two of the bright and caring volunteers from IBM. 

By the way, IBM chose Burnet Middle School because of its proximity to their office. If your company is interested in working in a local school, contact us via the comment post or email, and we’ll get you details about Classroom Coaching opportunities near your offices.