Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: F.C. Schools Celebrate Business Partnerships This Week

By Eliot Corwin

What does it mean to be a Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) community partner? Let me tell you about my experience volunteering at George Mason High School (GMHS) for the Career Chats.

I’ve visited GMHS several times to talk with students about my career as an athletic trainer and entrepreneur.

Each time I’m one of about 40 enthusiastic volunteers who take time out of the work day to tell our career stories. The students are assigned to small groups, based on their interests.

It is a little awkward at first, but as we share our own journeys from high school to professional life, students ask great questions, and enjoy our informal conversation. It is very rewarding.

This is just one way of many ways to be a community partner.

That’s why FCCPS is celebrating Community Partnership Week.

Our local schools benefit tremendously from the services, money, and expertise donated by business and community partners.

These relationships provide opportunities for students, tools for teachers and classrooms, and an avenue for community members to get involved in the community’s schools.

More than five hundred businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and individuals partner with FCCPS every year.

There are five FCCPS schools and seven School-Affiliated Organizations (SAO) — PTAs, Athletic, Band, and Choral Boosters, and the Falls Church Education Foundation. Partners work with schools and SAOs in a great variety of ways.

Who are all these partners?

Some partnerships between our schools and community go back decades and some are brand new in others. In 2020, partnerships are more important than ever, and everyone is welcome to participate! Take a look at the FCCPS website to see the Community Partnership Directory at www.fccps.org. You will recognize familiar local businesses, city government departments, and non-profit organizations, as well as individuals who share their professional expertise.

What do partnerships do for our schools?

They work with teachers to provide real-world perspective to school-based experiences. They donate money, food, and supplies to programs. They hold dineout fundraisers.They sponsor Falls Church Education Foundation and All Night Grad Celebration programs. They collect holiday gifts and donate meals for families.

What do partnerships do for students?

Partners introduce students to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access, providing new ideas and broadening students’ horizons. Partners provide opportunities for students to serve the community. FCCPS has a culture of care and student volunteers help many local organizations during school or as part of extracurricular activities.Partners open doors to students and their families to local organizations that may be new to them

What do partnerships do for businesses?

People who partner with the schools get a tremendous amount of benefit from working with the schools.They are sharing expertise that they’ve learned over many years. They are helping to prepare students to enter careers that matter. Partners are building a pathway to bring new talent into their career area.

Why support partners?

The first step is easy. Get out there and show appreciation for the generosity of these partners. Support the businesses that are committed to our schools. Shop there. Eat there. Recommend them. Thank them. Most are small businesses, and if we want to be able to rely on their backing, we need to support them as well.

There’s a direct connection between supporting community partners and the taxes that your family pays. When you spend your money in the City of Falls Church, supporting the partners who support the schools, the sales and meals tax you pay goes into the City’s budget, helping to fund the schools and general government. Spending your money locally, with community partners, is a Quadruple Win!

  1. You get the great goods, food, and services you need close to home.
  2. You thank a local partner and help them build their business.
  3. You help to fund the City’s budget.
  4. You get to feel virtuous every time you order takeout, shop for gifts, get your car repaired, or visit the dentist.

How can you be a partner?

If you would like to get involved by sharing your personal expertise with schools, FCCPS will be glad to build a partnership. GMHS will be holding four virtual Career Chats for high school students this year. We need lots of people to tell their career stories, and inspire students. There are other opportunities listed on the FCCPS website. Learn more by contacting Marybeth Connelly connellym@fccps.org

Thank you to all the partners that help make our schools full of so many wonderful experiences and opportunities, and thank you to all those who shop at, work for, and otherwise support these businesses and help make these valuable partnerships possible.

Eliot Corwin, owner of Advantage Trainers, serves as the Chairman of the FCCPS Business in Education Partnership.