VIPS lends skills, heart in schools _lowres

Photo provided by Renée Boutte Myer -- Charlotte Britten and Renée Boutte Myer arrive at Buchanan Elementary as part of Volunteers in Public Schools for a recent Principal for a Day program.

Volunteers are working to improve public education in East Baton Rouge Parish through Volunteers in Public Schools, a community nonprofit with multiple programs aimed at achieving this goal.

In two of the programs, EveryBody Reads and EveryOne Counts, volunteers meet with children to read to them and help with math problems. Besides volunteering, VIPS is helping schools by creating partnerships with area businesses and organizations through Partners in Education.

LSU’s College of Human Sciences and Education participates in the program.

“We have so much human capital and human resources and kind hearts and hands that will hopefully be able to make a difference,” said Renée Boutte Myer, outreach and advocacy coordinator for the college.

Myer participated in a recent VIPS Principal for a Day program, where Partners in Education representatives were paired with principals in East Baton Rouge public schools. Myer was matched with Charlotte Britten, principal of Buchanan Elementary, near the LSU campus.

The representatives and principals shadowed each other to observe what public schools are like and to create relationships. Through the program, VIPS hopes to dispute misconceptions about public schools.

Through previous volunteer work and the College of Human Sciences and Education, Myer said she already is aware of the challenges facing public education in the parish.

Britten and Myer noted that one challenge they faced in the partnership is scheduling conflicts between LSU and the elementary school, but overall the program is reciprocally rewarding.

Through the program, LSU students can receive credit for reading or helping with math in the schools.

“We’re helping to produce some good citizens,” Britten said, “so we’re starting young to build the character, the values, as well as educational aspects of our students.”

Myer believes it is important for the university, and the College of Human Sciences and Education in particular, to partner with the school because it is committed to public education in Louisiana.

In 1991, Myer was LSU’s first African-American homecoming queen. She is seen by educators as a role model in VIPS schools.

For information on VIPS, visit vips.ebrschools.org or call (225) 226-4704.