Investing in Whole Student Excellence for Tomorrow’s Future Silicon Valley Leaders
Profile of SCUSD's Partnership with Intel Corporation
Santa Clara Unified School District’s partnership with Intel Corporation began numerous years ago with one of the company’s most established volunteer programs, PC Pals. The concept is simple yet it can lead to incredibly positive outcomes. PC Pals matches Intel employee volunteers with students in the classroom — in SCUSD, students at Montague and Buchser Middle Schools — with whom they exchange emails throughout the year.
Twice a week, through the district’s secure server, students look forward to checking their emails and responding to fun and engaging questions from their PC Pal: “What are you working on in school this week? What is your favorite subject? What did you do this weekend?” Rita Holiday, Community Engagement Manager, Global Public Affairs for Intel, said, “The PC Pals volunteers come back year to year because they enjoy it so much and find this experience so rewarding.” Holiday went on to share her own experience as a PC Pal, saying “I was paired up with a student who aspired to open a bakery, but she wasn’t doing very well in math.” She empathized with the student, having encountered less than positive experiences with math when she was in school and decided to use the opportunity as a teachable moment by explaining how much math the student uses when she cooks. “I shared with her how measuring ingredients, cooking times, and using fractions with measuring cups are mathematical concepts are used in baking.” Holiday explained how excited she was when the student emailed her about her improved math performance throughout the year because she understood the mathematical connections to something she loved doing.
At Scott Lane Elementary School, kindergarten through third grade students enjoy having Intel volunteers read books to them through Intel’s Business of Reading Program. Volunteers also talk about the importance of reading and why storytelling is important, while inviting students to read books to them. Studies show that reading programs like the Business of Reading help unlock student potential by raising reading achievement, proficiency, and student’s confidence in reading. As a result, more students can read at or above grade level, understand academic language, and increase student’s enjoyment of reading — each which increase students’ lifelong success. “Investing in the future employees of Silicon Valley takes strong partnerships, like those with Intel to increase opportunities for students to experience STEM education and exposure to caring adults who are vested in their success,” said Steve Neese, Partnerships Manager, Santa Clara Unified School District.
Earlier this year, in celebration of Intel’s 50th anniversary, Intel Santa Clara held a day of service to benefit the Santa Clara Adult Education campus. Thirty-eight volunteers removed unwanted juniper bushes, picked up garbage, pulled weeds, and restored an outdoor classroom. Holiday explained that Intel has one of the most generous employee volunteer programs that allows employees to volunteer any time of the day. “Globally, we have the most well-educated, well-rounded individuals, and if you are bringing together all of these people, it’s part of our DNA as a company to give back to the community and to strengthen the community,” said Holiday.
Intel also matches this time with money, which is donated back to the organization that is benefitting from their time. Over the years, SCUSD has benefited greatly from volunteer hours and volunteer matching grants from Intel. Due to their flexible volunteer program, SCUSD has also benefited from Intel volunteers assisting with a variety of school gardening and painting projects.
Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, SCUSD GAINS (Girls Achieving in Non-Traditional Subjects) program will receive mentoring, coaching, and speaking engagements from Intel’s women’s network. “We also plan on bringing the girls to our Santa Clara campus for a day of workshops to also stimulate their interest in STEM fields,” said Holiday.
“It truly takes a village to help students succeed,” said Holiday. “Everyone in this space is part of that village: the businesses, school districts, community are all a part of creating an educated community. If we don’t take our highly skilled and highly educated people out of the office and into the community, we are only doing half our job. We have a social responsibility to our community.”