November 22, 2022
Debbie Herbers, President / COO, Projetech
I wanted to share my personal & professional experience with Adopt A Class, in an effort to raise awareness of a very worthwhile way for Greater Cincinnati organizations to help their communities, while also providing a very rewarding team-building opportunity for their employees. Investing in local communities is an essential part of being a good corporate citizen – which is one of our key missions at Projetech. Luckily, we have found this opportunity through Adopt A Class (AAC), a non-profit organization that pairs classrooms in economically disadvantaged areas with businesses to expose kids to different career experiences.
In early 2018 I was approached by AAC and asked to consider participating in the AAC program by ‘adopting’ a classroom at Cheviot Elementary, which is just a few blocks away from the Projetech office. We had previously worked on a couple of projects with Principal Tammy Solomon-Gray, so I knew we’d have her support. Since I spent almost 16 years working for Cincinnati Public Schools prior to joining Projetech, I was immediately intrigued by the model, which benefits students& teachers, while also allowing us to strengthen a bond with our Cheviot‘ neighbors’. It would require a small group (4-7) of Projetechers visiting the classroom for one hour a month to do activities related to our industry(technology) and a small, annual program donation to help cover the administrative costs. Then, at the end of the school year, we would plan afield trip for our class – ideally to visit our office and be introduced to what it was like to work for a technology company.
The Adopt A Class staff was wonderful to work with during the entire process. They came to our office to provide a brief orientation for our team and stayed in close contact during the ‘match’ process. They were also very helpful with sharing resources as we figured out what we were going to do each month to engage 20 adorable, but energetic first graders.
We felt a little intimidated (and outnumbered) before our first visit – until we got to meet Jessica Rose, teacher/super-hero. Her compassion for her students and command of her classroom is magical! We’ve been so blessed to stay paired with her every year so far and we are always amazed by how she can do what she does every day. While visiting her class for an hour each month is a highlight for us, we can’t believe how exhausting it can be. If you haven’t said thank you to a teacher lately, I hope this will prompt you to do so.
The first year was certainly a learning process, but we loved every minute of it. You could feel the energy each month as we planned activities over lunches. A real, but unexpected benefit for us was that co-workers that didn’t typically have reason to interact much were enjoying getting to know each other. Nothing brings a Security Engineer, a VP of Sales, an HR professional, and an IT college intern together like a good old fashioned science experiment! I honestly can’t imagine a better scenario for workplace team building and morale boosting.
Our end of year field trips have certainly been a high-light of the program. The children walk to our office and we have planned STEM activities in our conference rooms and open areas. We also find ways to let them experience what it is like to work in technology. For example, we give them headsets & walk them through problem-solving sessions with pretend customers on video chat. We are recruiting them young! We’ve also invited our local first responders, and they’ve been so generous with their time – eating lunch with the kids, then showing them the technology they have in their emergency vehicles. It is a very special day in the Cheviot community!
Now that we have a few years under our belt, we are better able to judge which activities will be successful and how long they’ll keep the kids engaged. And, since we have a new batch of first graders each year, we can recycle those that were the most impactful & fun. We often comment about how holidays and seasonal traditions are so much more fun now. I’ve never been a big fan of winter, but watching children excitedly make snow certainly gives me a unique perspective I haven’t had since my children were small.
I encourage every organization to consider supporting the AAC program. It is a true win-win for all involved and imagine the impact on the future of our city if we could get every eligible class matched! I personally cannot wait for the day we get to hire one of our former AAC students.
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