PEP (Public Education Partnership)

By: Michael Cassidy

The Public Education Partnership, otherwise known as PEP, is maintained by Audrey Nettlow and Dr.James.  It was founded in 2011 with the creating a non-profit organization whose mission is to support Winter Haven’s public schools. PEP is a volunteer driven not-for-profit organization supporting quality and collaborative programs for Winter Haven’s public schools, teachers and students.

Things usually get rolling at PEP around four o’clock in the afternoon when the buses pull up and unload the children. The children come in fresh after school with a lot of energy. The leaders and volunteers at PEP cultivate this energy and direct it towards outside recreational activities, homework and reading time, and creative activities. This is done by setting up different stations around the PEP facility. The students spend about thirty minutes at each station and by the end of their time at PEP some of their post-school day energy is used up.

I got to spend my day assisting in the homework section at PEP. The children that I was blessed with the opportunity to assist were in first and second grade. The only classroom and learning setting I have been immersed in the for past couple of years has been my college classrooms and it was a humbling experience to help children that were beginning to learn to read. They sounded out each letter and really gave it all their effort when given the right amount of validation and support. The people at PEP treat them with heartfelt care and compassion. There was only one problem I encountered while volunteering at PEP. It was with Common Core. I’ve usually come defend of Common Core learning when in conversation about it, but I experienced first hand one of the downfalls of such a learning system. I was assisting a young boy with his math homework; he was subtracting hundreds. As I helped him he was more concerned with finding the right strategy or method to solve the problem than actually understanding the methods behind solving it. I remember asking him about something he called re-grouping, and then he continued to do that specific technique for every following problem as if they were all the same, but each problem is different and I perceived that he had trouble understanding. It seems to just be a reflection of stereotyping and classism, butPEP is a volunteer driven non-profit organization supporting quality and collaborative programs for Winter Haven’s public schools, teachers and students. it there could legitimately be problems with the way we are teaching elementary school children to learn.

Lets bring creativity back by putting a little more PEP in our kid’s steps.

Steps to a brighter, more fulfilling, future.


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