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NIE sponsors: The backbone of the program

By By Paige Case/NIE Coordinator
March 8, 2001
These words were published in the Portland (Maine) Eastern Herald in 1795, long before the organization of the Newspaper in Education program. They testify to the fact that the educational value of newspapers has been recognized since the early days of America.
Newspaper in Education as an organized movement established in the 1930s when a group of teachers asked the New York Times to deliver newspapers to schools. The idea has grown to include more than 700 newspapers and thousands of schools. NIE is also active in over 30 foreign countries. The program's basic goal is to promote the use of newspapers as important, regular teaching tools in all grades and subjects.
The Star's NIE program began in the early 1990s, due largely to the efforts of then publisher, Mr. Jerry Strader. The program has since grown to provide approximately 5,000 newspapers weekly to schools in a five-county area. Though some schools throughout the country pay for papers from their budgets, Mr. Strader was dedicated to the idea of providing area schools newspapers at no cost to them. He organized The Star's program to be funded solely by sponsorships a practice which continues today.
As a partner with the sponsors, The Star provides newspapers at a minimum cost and assumes all costs of operating the program. This partnership allows schools to utilize their financial resources in other ways and gives area businesses the opportunity to invest in the education of young people.
It is this partnership that I wish to highlight in this NIE Week column.
I have been The Star's Newspaper in Education coordinator for four years. During this time, I've promoted the many benefits of newspaper use in the classroom. I have reported the specific ways area teachers use this learning tool from day to day, and have quoted both teachers and students as they eagerly shared how newspapers have made a difference to them.
But while I have continually thanked sponsors in advertisements over the years, I have never taken the opportunity to say a word about the people we partner with each year to make NIE the strong program it is. I am taking this opportunity now.
Here are some things I want you to know about our sponsors:
Our Newspaper in Education sponsors believe in this program. Last year, I visited with Mrs. Charlie White, who, with her husband, Gary, personally sponsors a class at Quitman High School. I recall the enthusiasm with which she articulated her conviction about the benefits of newspaper use in the classroom. I can recount many such conversations.
Sponsors continually share with me how much they appreciate what kids can gain from having access to newspapers. In fact, some have expressed their support so strongly and so well that I have jokingly offered to hire them to help promote the program. I enjoy knowing our sponsors participate in NIE because they believe in what it does.
Our Newspaper in Education sponsors are faithful to this program. Years ago, Mr. Phil Brooks responded to an invitation to see NIE in action. He liked what he saw and has been a sponsor ever since.
Mr. Brooks is not alone. Over half of our sponsors have been with NIE since the program's onset. Other sponsors stay with the program year in and year out as well. The commitment our sponsors have to NIE is key to the success we have experienced over the years.
Our Newspaper in Education sponsors care more about the kids they help than any publicity they may receive for their participation in NIE. The Meridian Police Benevolent Association (MPBA) is a long-time NIE sponsor which provides papers to several schools in Meridian. I recently asked the organization for help with our Black History Month project. Though it already participates in NIE in a significant way, the MPBA enthusiastically contributed more to the program and even enlisted the help of The Fraternal Order of Police.
I expressed to Capt. Keith McCary that I could not thank them adequately for what they do for NIE, and his response was typical of my experience with him and his organization over the years. He said, "This is something the kids will use and enjoy, right? That's thanks in itself." MPBA is not the only sponsor to express this sentiment. I can recall conversation after conversation with sponsors who have told me they are glad to be able to help our kids. The thanks that we give them through both individual and collective recognition ads is secondary to our sponsors. Their primary concern is to give back to the community specifically to our young people.
Look in today's paper at our NIE sponsor list. Take note of the businesses and individuals who provide newspapers to our NIE schools. As you do so, keep in mind the good things I have told you about them. They are a genuine pleasure to work with and an asset to our community. I give them my utmost thanks.

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