The Upson Education Alliance is continuing to grow and spread its branches throughout the community. Dr. David Beeland, Director of Federal Programs and Technology for the Thomaston-Upson School System, provided the Board of Education an update on the Alliance at their final meeting in 2013.
The Upson Education Alliance was formed on June 14, 2012, for the purpose of increasing awareness within the Thomaston-Upson community about the value of obtaining a quality education. Over the course of several meetings, the Alliance gathered and analyzed data to determine challenges that keep students and the community from valuing education.
Dr. Beeland said the alliance has a lot of activity going on.
“We’ve had two recent donations from different organizations that want to support the cause of the Education Alliance, which is to get people in the community to value education. Those donations will allow us now to seek 501c3 status (non-profit). We are about to begin that process,” said Beeland.
“We recently invited all local ministers in the community to come to a meeting and talk about ways to make the school system a better partner with the faith-based community. This is a continuation of the partnerships we’ve tried to build with business, higher education, industry and such, so it seemed like a natural progression to also meet with the faith-based community. We had a great meeting. I think we had about 20 church representatives there, and a lot of good ideas came out of that meeting. I’m very encouraged about that meeting.
“I also wanted to bring you up-to-date with some of the stuff we’re doing with the after school program with the Education Alliance. We’ve partnered with the Lincoln Park Citizens Coalition to start an after school program there. Ms. Ella Owens, a retired teacher with the school system is going to be the coordinator of that program.
“It is a very unfortunate thing for the community that we lost Clearwater Paper,” Beeland noted. “I think there are roughly about 150 jobs lost with that closing. But they did contact and reach out to us about some materials that they wanted to donate to us. A lot of that stuff will be very beneficial for these after school programs that don’t have very many resources. Some of it will also be used by the school district. But desks, chairs, tables, copy paper, just all kinds of things were donated.
“I also was contacted by another gentleman who is seeking to start an after school program as a non-profit, and wanted to know if they could also partner with the school system and work with us to find some things for kids to do after school.
“Finally, we also met with representatives from Reimagine Thomaston. It is a really exciting event that is going to occur at Park Lane on March 15. Basically the idea is just to love on the community, give the people a hand up and try to get them back on their feet. There will be clothes, food, music, activities for children. The Upson Education Alliance is looking to partner with Reimagine Thomaston.”
The Upson Education Alliance has developed a web site that provides lists of resources for the community. The resources provide assistance to the community in the areas of literacy, clothing, mental and physical health, employment, food, housing, and transportation, among others. It is the hope of the UEA that this web site will make it easier for members of the community to obtain the help that they need so that children and families can focus on education. That site can be found at www.upsoneducationalliance.org.