By Robert Schmidt
One of Columbia College’s largest on-campus organizations is experiencing several changes this year. Partners In Education (PIE) currently sends Columbia College students to Eugene Field Elementary school to read to students once a week for half an hour. Field Elementary will close at the end of this year, and after a 22-year relationship with the school, PIE is searching for new ways for students to interact with the community.
“I’m really sad to see it end,” Kim Craig, sophomore and president of PIE, said. “We’re surveying members to see what they want to do in the spring.”
Each of the 105 PIE members is currently required only to read to students; attending meetings is optional. Next year this may change as the organization may require members to volunteer for events around Columbia. This would allow them to complete required service hours for a major, however. Craig said the new organization will be much like a volunteer group, with requests for volunteers submitted to PIE for students to sign up for events.
Sophomore Elisha Sanders said that she’ll continue to be in PIE even after the changes. “I’m staying with the club, but I’m going to miss it [reading at Field Elementary].”
A reading session at Field Elementary lasts about 30 minutes. Sanders said she arrives at noon on Tuesdays, and after signing in, she finds her student in class and escorts her to the library. During her time, she reads about three books. “I think we’ve read every single Dr. Seuss book this semester,” Sanders said.
Though the program is not required for her major, Sanders says she enjoys spending time with kids and will continue to do swimming lessons for fourth graders. “I just do it for fun even though I’m not an education major,” Sanders said.
A picnic is held twice a year, once in winter and once in late spring, for all PIE members. Other service projects are performed by the organization as required by Columbia College. This year, PIE participated in the recent blood drive and also in Mocktails.
Paula Willis, sophomore, eats with students from Field Elementary at the annual PIE picnic. Photo by Elisha Sanders.
Faye Burchard, dean for Campus Life, stands with a representative of Field Elementary at the annual PIE picnic. Photo by Elisha Sanders.