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.

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About Austin Partners in Education

Austin Partners in Education is a non-profit organization that provides innovative programs to improve student academic performance.

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