With the first nine weeks of the semester nearly complete, the Classroom Partners program continues to assist Shawnee Public School educators and improve the program's second year of operation.

According to Will Rosebure, Classroom Partner and co-chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, the organization began last year after Shawnee Forward and the committee saw a need to help SPS teachers.

"The whole idea for doing it was that we know teachers take money out of their pocket to buy stuff for kids and for supplies that's not available through the school," Rosebure said. "So in addition to helping with purchasing whatever they needed...the partner is encouraged to become acquainted with the teacher and the classroom and to see what's going on in our schools."

Rosebure explained the program gives teachers the opportunity to better their classrooms and allows community members to become more involved with local education.

According to Meg Vorndran, partner and co-chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, last year educators with partners purchased or funded a variety of items for their classrooms including supplies, field trips, technology, educational games and other such things.

Vorndran said last year the organization managed to recruit the number of partners they wanted and this year they hope to meet their new goal.

"Last year when we started this, our goal was 100 and we were able to meet that goal and this year we've added some more and 141 is our goal for this year and we are 18 partners short," Vorndran said.

Vorndran said anyone in the community can volunteer to join the program and sponsor an educator.

"They're businesses, they're individuals, they're churches and just a variety of (people)," Vorndran said.

There is not a donation size requirement, Vorndran said, although $300 to $500 per school year is the expectation.

She also said educators and partners usually work together to determine how much funding will be given for their classroom.

"If you want the tax letter you can put your money in the Shawnee Community Foundation under the school and the teacher that you want it to go to and then the teacher draws funds from there," Vorndran said. "It can (also) be completely between the teacher and the partner."

Last year, Vorndran said she and Rosebure kept up with all the partners and all the different schools.

However, to make things easier, each school site has been given a Building Head, which Vorndran said is someone who manages a specific school building and those partners only.

Classroom Partners works with several schools including Pleasant Grove, Horace Mann, Sequoyah, Jefferson, Will Rogers and the Shawnee Early Childhood Center (SECC).

The Building Heads include Vorndran at SECC, Peggy Cook at Jefferson, Raeann Schafer at Will Rogers, Rosebure at Sequoyah, Ryan Brooks at Horace Mann and Scott Roper at Pleasant Grove.

In addition to this change, Vorndran said most of the Classroom Partners from last year returned and are continuing their partnerships.

"We had 90 percent rendition of partners that re-signed up and most of them wanted to stay with their teacher, which is part of what we wanted," Vorndran said. "We wanted to develop that relationship."

Since the program started, both Vorndran and Rosebure said educators have responded positively and with excitement.

"Last year I think they were stunned, like overwhelmed (but) I think most of it has been very positive," Vorndran said.

Rosebure said in his experience last year educators were just as excited at the end of the school year as they were at the beginning because of Classroom Partners.

Another benefit of this program, Vorndran said, is providing insight to members of the Shawnee community.

"You see the kids playing on the playground (and) you drive by the school, but you don't know all the needs," Vorndran said. "There's just a lot of need."

Rosebure said Classroom Partners helps people see the good Shawnee educators are doing, but also some of their struggles and the help they need to continue teaching successfully.

"Part of our motive is that education is where it's at and it's the future of our state and our community,

Rosebure said. "Without an educated workforce we don't have anything."

As the year goes on, both Vorndran and Rosebure said they will continue to maintain and grow Classroom Partners and perhaps in the future will expand to other school districts.

For more information contact Vorndran at mmvorndran@outlook.com or Rosebure at wrosebure@gmail.com.