Reflections from the Field: 2017 a Time of Evolution

If you’ve met with me or one of the PEP team over the course of 2017, you’ve probably heard us refer to 2017 as a time of evolution at Public Education Partners, one that saw transitions, new and enhanced endeavors, and an energized commitment to our mission. Indeed, 2017 was a busy year at PEP, highlighted by the following:

  • We changed leadership as a result of the wonderful Mrs. Grier Mullins’ retirement, added four new, dynamic members to the PEP team, and welcomed three Board members (and five more in 2018);
  • We re-established PEP’s research and policy arm to build our community’s knowledge and capacity to advocate for strong public schools and a more economically mobile Greenville;
  • We touched over 18,200 elementary students and families through Make Summer Count, a program designed and now proven to help eliminate summer reading loss for our community’s most vulnerable elementary students. As a result of this measurable impact, PEP won the 2017 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorks SC Award for Excellence;
  • We targeted teacher shortages in middle and high schools by expanding the innovative Greenville Alternative Teacher Education (GATE) program;
  • We provided literacy coaching for middle school teachers as a partner in the United Way’s OnTrack Greenville Middle Grades Initiative, an effort that’s proving to keep our middle schoolers on track towards high school graduation;
  • We launched two new grants – Building STEAM Grants and The Mullins Grant for Excellent Teaching­ ­– to better support and retain our teacher talent; and
  • We honored Duke Energy as our 2017 Partner of the Year and were challenged by Dr. Paul Reville at our annual luncheon to build a “21st-century education engine” to support all kids.

Although this list does not and cannot capture all of this year’s milestones and high points, it serves as a snapshot of the diverse efforts PEP made in 2017 to move the needle for Greenville’s students. We also recognize that it is only due to your investment in and partnership with us – your time, your talent, your dollars – that we can engage in such impactful efforts. Thank you!

2017’s success excites and challenges us for what’s to come in 2018, a year defined by the following big goals:

  • Engage our Board, community partners (you!), and other stakeholders to revisit PEP’s current strategic plan, which concludes at the end of 2018;
  • Sharpen our portfolio of programs and advocacy strategies to focus on elevating the teaching profession, an effort that ultimately will 1) end the teacher shortage, and 2) position Greenville as “Teacher Town, USA,” the country’s destination for teaching; and
  • Expand and diversify the individuals and organizations that invest in PEP.

Our relentless commitment to our mission – to serve as a bridge and broker between Greenville County Schools and our community to introduce practices and policy so all students thrive – is now stronger than ever. Thank you for sharing this commitment with Public Education Partners! As a teacher once told us, “PEP is Greenville County Schools’ secret weapon” and we are ready for 2018!

In partnership,

Ansel Sanders


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