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Berrien RESA celebrates 2024 Partners in Education

Berrien RESA celebrates 2024 Partners in Education

BERRIEN SPRINGS-During its Closing Day Celebration held today, Berrien RESA recognized
six area businesses for their longstanding commitment to the education community as Partners in

“Berrien RESA is an organization consisting of nearly 400 employees,” said Eric Hoppstock,
Berrien RESA Superintendent. “We serve 24,000 students, about 3,000 school professionals and
countless families on an annual basis. However, the services and programs we provide are only
as strong as the partnerships we form to deliver those opportunities. Without the help of area
businesses, community groups, agencies and volunteers, none of what Berrien RESA does
would be possible.”

This year’s Partnership in Education winners include:
● Meemic Insurance - Hagen Agency
Dean Hagen, Abbi Wegner and the Hagen Agency have been long standing
partners with Berrien RESA. From sponsoring our HEARTwork events, to
providing grants, and even spoiling us with donuts a few times a year, Abbi,
Dean and team have been constant cheerleaders of the education community.
We appreciate their support as friends to schools as well as constant advocates
of learning.

Allie Kibler-Campbell, Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan
Allie has connected us to experts in the field to help provide continuous learning
around human trafficking and mandated reporting. She has been an active
member of the Whole Child Collaborative for the last three years and has helped
support partnerships between community organizations and schools. She
provides direct support to Berrien County principals and counselors to field
questions and support their continuous learning.

Kyle Kelly, Lake Michigan College
Kyle is amazing when it comes to helping encourage esports in southwest
Michigan! He is a "yes and" kind of partner who seeks to make the esports
experience increasingly enriching through the years and brings along his
technical team for the ride! We deeply appreciate all that Kyle and his team do -
from facilities booking, management to equipment hauling, setup to engaging
with students about their experience, he is the whole package.

● Mike Shembarger, Trinity Lutheran School
Trinity Lutheran Principal Mike Shembarger exhibits dedicated leadership with a
big heart, supporting and advocating for children and their families through his
work at Trinity Lutheran School and as a partner with Berrien RESA. In multiple
ways, he promotes the work of Early Childhood Education through this strong
partnership. For many years, he has opened the doors of his program to host
monthly playgroups and has provided childcare space every year for the
Parenting Matters Conference at no cost.

● Jilliann Marrow, Subway in Berrien Springs
From the minute we met, a bond was made. Jill welcomed our students and was
more than generous and patient training them. The students have been working
at Subway in Berrien Springs for three years, twice a week and have become
completely independent in prepping the food, cleaning dishes, breaking down
boxes, making labels and any other job that Jill needed them to do. Jill has been
amazing with her bright personality, fun spirit, and makes the students feel like
they really belong. This year, Jill has even offered one of our students a job upon
receiving their certificate of completion!

● Larry Hewitt, X-CEL Chemical Specialties
In response to the pandemic's challenges, Berrien RESA forged a partnership
with X-CEL Chemical to not only support our own facility needs but also extend
cooperative pricing to local school districts. Presently, 14 schools are benefiting
from this collaborative effort, enjoying streamlined cleaning processes and
significant cost savings. Through this cooperative initiative, participating schools
are saving 11 percent on their cleaning expenses, freeing up substantial funds
for allocation to other essential areas.

In 2009, the district established the Partnership in Education Awards to recognize those unsung
efforts of community members who made a tremendous impact in our classrooms. The entities
and people being recognized are nominated by Berrien RESA staff and scored against a rubric
measuring their longstanding commitment to supporting education. The recipients are not only
honored in front of all of Berrien RESA’s employees during their annual Closing Day celebration,
their name is also engraved on a sculpture housed at the Administrative Center, affectionately
called the “Partnership Tree”.

“The Partnership Tree was designed and crafted by Career & Technical Education students
attending arts and welding classes at Coloma High School many years ago,” said Hoppstock.
“Each year, as partners are recognized, we add an engraved leaf to the tree. Now, any time there
are visitors in our buildings, they see the tree and can read the names of all of the supportive
people and entities who have made significant contributions to education. The tree symbolizes
the connection between the classroom and our community and the hundreds of opportunities that
grow out of that partnership.”

Congratulations to this year’s winners.

  • press-release