A Partner in Education

Boone Hospital Center has had a partnership with Columbia Public Schools for almost 40 years.

Becoming one of the first partners in the district, Boone Hospital joined Jefferson Junior High School (JJHS) in 1984 as their sole Partner in Education.

Partners in Education allows schools and businesses in the community to work together and share resources. “The partnership with Boone was established to increase community relations and involvement with Columbia Public Schools,” says Nancy Jones, former PIE chairperson for JJHS.

When the PIE partnership started in 1984, Jefferson Junior High School taught 8th and 9th graders. In 2013, the school was converted to Jefferson Middle School (JMS), and the grades changed to 6th, 7th and 8th.

When it was JJHS, Boone was able to offer the 9th graders a chance to explore work opportunities at the hospital. The Volunteen Program accepted 25 9th graders each year. The students would be assigned to various departments, and it gave them a chance to see the inner workings of the hospital. Matt Borgemeyer, MD, an OBGYN at Women’s Health Associates was in the first volunteen program at JJHS.

Dr. Borgemeyer was in the first Volunteen program at JJHS.

Job Shadowing was also available to the older students, and showed students that the hospital offered jobs that went beyond medicine. Students interested in security learned how expansive the hospital security system was.

Through the PIE partnership, Boone Hospital was instrumental in installing security cameras at Jefferson Junior High School. “Long before horrendous school shootings and when school buildings were not locked from outsiders, Boone was concerned about people who cut through Jeff’s halls. Our location between the business loop and downtown provided cut-through traffic that was most concerning. Boone had security cameras placed in our main hall to help monitor those who might not have school business in the building,” says Linda Hutton, former PIE chairperson.

While it was also a Junior High, Boone Hospital allocated funds for there to be a full-time nurse at school at all times. Boone worked with contractors in Columbia and helped renovate a portion of the building to take the nurse’s office from a tiny room to a nicer office for the nurse to work from. Boone Hospital regularly stocks the nurses office with supplies and snacks.

Home Economics students used to hold Teddy Bear Teas. Each year around Valentine’s Day, faculty and staff from the school and any Boone employee could bring their children ages 3 through 6 with a Teddy Bear to the Teddy Bear Tea. There would be cookie decorating and crafts and the drama/speech students would perform puppet stories.

Since 2005, there has also been a Boone Excellence in Education Award that is given to one JMS employee every year. The JMS faculty nominates teachers, and the winning teacher receives a $500 check that is given to them at the annual awards assembly held on the last day of school.

In 2023, Mike Szydlowski won the Excellence in Education Award.

Health Fair and Flu Shots for Teachers

As part of the PIE partnership, Boone Health’s Community Wellness department, formerly known as WELLAWARE, started giving JJHS/ JMS teachers free health screens and free flu shots. Started in 2008, Community Wellness staff would come to the school in the spring and give staff free health screenings and would return in the fall to provide free flu shots. To date, Community Wellness has given 387 health screens and 817 flu shots.

The Mobile Health Unit parked at Jefferson Middle School offering free health screenings to teachers.

Other PIE partnership programs included:

  • EAP: faculty, staff and students had the opportunity to use Boone’s mental health counseling as needed
  • Art students would decorate the hallways and bridge over Broadway
  • Decorations and caroling at holidays
  • Sponsored national junior honor society
  • Teach mini lessons on areas of interest related to each of Boone’s academic departments
  • Served as judges for speech contests and conductors for immigration unit simulation

“Our kids were so proud to be allowed to serve in some capacity. They felt so important to get to contribute to the hospital,” says Linda.

Jefferson Junior High School students supporting Pink Day.
Emergency Department donated 1,000 pencils to JMS.

“The partnership with Boone has been way more than just a financial backing.

It has more importantly been a sharing of interests, expertise and moral support to each other and our students and staff,” says Nancy.

Additional Support for All Columbia Public Schools

In 2018, many states started requiring high school students to learn CPR training in order to earn their high school diploma. In Missouri, Senate Bill 711 stated that this would begin in the 2017 – 2018 school year. The law states that, “This act requires high school pupils in public schools and charter schools to have received thirty minutes of CPR instructions and training in the proper performance of the Heimlich maneuver or other first aid for chocking prior to graduation. The act also requires the training to be included in the district’s existing health or physical education curriculum.” Boone Hospital and our Community Wellness department were pleased to be able to offer this free CPR instruction to the 3 high schools. 4,063 students were CPR trained from 2017 – March 2020. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, CPS still needed to provide CPR training to students needing to graduate. Community Wellness made an instructional video that CPS’s health and physical education staff could use to continue to train and educate students.

Community Wellness offered free CPR instruction to high school students.

Athletic Activity Partnership Program

Boone Health has also been an active supporter of the athletic and activities programs at Columbia Public Schools.

When the economic recession hit in 2008, the CPS district was hit with financial decisions like many businesses were. Being faced with freezing salaries or freezing budgets, many activities had to seek funds from the community. David Eggon, the District Athletic Director for CPS said, “For a lot of our athletic and activities programs, they were still able to operate, but we were finding more and more programs going out and attempting to fundraise to supplement their budgets.”

Columbia has shown itself to be a great community that supports the schools and supports their programs. However, businesses were being greeted with an abundance of fundraising inquiries. With many school programs reaching out for support, a business would get a request from one school’s volleyball team and then another school’s track team. And by the time the football team is asking for support, the business has no more money left to give.

“Every sport at every CPS school is represented within the staff at Boone,” says Ben Cornelius, Marketing Director for Boone Health. “It was impossible to determine which teams to sponsor, because we couldn’t sponsor them all individually.”

It strongly highlighted that CPS needed more of a comprehensive program that was rooted in equity and trying to ensure that all of their programs could benefit from community support.

Bruce Whitesides, former District Athletics Director, lead the charge of bringing CPS’ athletic activities to the future. Joining forces with an organization, they were able to facilitate a plan of the school district combining marketing partnerships. So instead of sponsoring just one school, a business would be sponsoring all CPS athletics programs and activities.

The proceeds collected from the partnership program would be distributed equitably to all of the programs; all the volleyball teams, all the soccer teams, all the cross country teams, etc. The goal was to reduce the need of teams fundraising and to also ensure that all CPS athletics programs would benefit from the partnership. It also offered equity to the community partners who were able to advertise at many different schools.

“This decision made it much easier for Boone to have a blanket sponsorship where we were sponsoring all the athletic department activities,” Ben shares.

“Boone has been phenomenal for us,” says Bruce. “There are 10-12 community partners who have been with us since year 1, and Boone is one of them. They’ve been with us since this started in 2011 and we’re just incredibly grateful for the support.”

By Erin Wegner