Celebrating the new BEST partnership are seated, from left, DeWayne Morrow, Cleveland city president; Sherry Crye, Chamber director of workforce development; and Ron Spangler, Ocoee Middle School principal. Standing are school representatives and students, from left, Brandi Haynie, Holly Dare, Viktoriya Marushka, Allison Adams, Gracie Medley and Kane Ayres.
A relationship begun more than 17 years ago has flourished into a new BEST partnership. SouthEast Bank and Ocoee Middle School have re-energized their efforts to reinforce the education process and strengthen the community’s workforce as ongoing BEST partners.
BEST, an acronym for Business & Education Serving Together, is a program of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce that pairs a business and a selected school to enhance the quality of life for the community and provide business support for educational programs.
DeWayne Morrow, Cleveland city president for SouthEast Bank, worked together with Ron Spangler, OMS principal, more than 17 years ago when in a different banking industry.
“Through the BEST program, it has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Spangler and the staff and faculty at Ocoee Middle School for over 17 years,” Mr. Morrow said. “I thank the management of SouthEast Bank for their willingness to allow me the time to work with OMS and for providing financial support to projects at the school that might not otherwise be funded.”
Ocoee Middle School is a public rural middle school serving sixth, seventh and eighth graders, located within the Cleveland city limits. Located at 2250 North Ocoee Street, it houses 1,200-plus middle school students. One of two middle schools in the Bradley County School district, its motto is “Excellence by Design.”
Both by design and through this BEST partnership, OMS will attain its vision to empower all students to achieve their greatest potential, said officials.
Principal Ron Spangler stressed, “I believe in the BEST partnership program. Area businesses and schools make great partners. Together we will create a vision for the future of OMS and look forward to exciting new things ahead.
"I like the familiar quote ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ The financial support of SouthEast Bank helps the school purchase plaques and medallions for our annual Honors Night at Lee University, among other items. Matching this financial assistance is the personal and professional support of DeWayne Morrow. Dewayne has been instrumental in forming a special bond between Ocoee Middle and our BEST partner.”
As a member of the business community, Mr. Morrow noted, “We look forward to working with Mr. Spangler to grow and improve this partnership between Ocoee Middle School and SouthEast Bank.”
Sherry Crye, director of workforce development for the Chamber of Commerce, coordinates the BEST partnership program.
“Several of our schools have worked in partnership with businesses for many years now,” Ms. Crye said. “They’re demonstrating what a long-term commitment means to the workforce development of our community.”
According to Ms. Crye, schools in the Bradley County and Cleveland City School Systems have one or more local business partners as part of the BEST program. Private schools that are Chamber members may also participate in the program.
For information about the BEST partnership program, call Ms. Crye at 472-6587.