On May 18 the Anna Independent School District board of trustees awarded four local businesses with The Stand Up for Texas Public Schools award for going above and beyond the call of duty in the community. The Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce was one of the recipients, along with Anna Dental, Texas Star Bank and Brookshire’s.

Shelli Conway, president of the Anna ISD board of trustees, said the support of local businesses and other organizations is vital to the public school’s success, and the four businesses who were acknowledged were no different.

“The groups AISD recognized this year have done so much for our district and our students,” Conway said. “From monetary donations to athletic sponsorships to providing facilities for activities, these folks go above and beyond for us. You will very rarely attend an AISD event that you don’t see some sort of representation from at least one of our recognized businesses.”

Conway said it is not just the monetary contributions that matter.

“It is about a business simply being there for the district and its teachers and students,” Conway said. “Remember that the next time you see something like a student-led car wash happening on the Texas Star Bank parking lot or a bake sale happening on the sidewalk in front of Anna Dental. It is the time and effort these business give to our district and the genuine concern they have for the children of AISD that means the most. These businesses are supporting our kids, our teachers and our district in so many ways.”

Conway said she loves seeing the relationships between the school district and businesses grow.

“Organizations like the ones we recognized never let us, as a district, down,” Conway said. “They are always the first to step up and do whatever it is that is needed to aid in our student’s success. It is amazing to see the relationship between the school and organizations like the Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce grow and become somewhat interchangeable.”

The GACC and Anna ISD have been partnering together for years on various projects and community events, such as the upcoming City of Anna fireworks show and Anna Glowfest. Kevin Hall, executive director of the GACC, said in the year since he took over, the relationship between the GACC and Anna ISD has strengthened to better guide the community’s future.

“One way this is being accomplished is by having the director of the Career Technical Education and Secondary Curriculum Jennifer Kelly and Communications and Marketing Specialists Melane Woodbury get connected with our chamber members via our networking meetings,” Hall said.

The GACC hands out new teacher bags each August to the school district staff.

“The bags help get Chamber member’s information and promotions in the hands of prospective new clients while simultaneously helping the new teachers know places to check out in the city,” Hall said.

Hall also said he is thankful for the school allowing the chamber to utilize their facilities during community events — he said it helps keep the small-town feel during this exponential growth.

For the 2017-2018 school year, the GACC is working with Rattan Elementary teachers to create a mentor program and establish a Coyote Packs weekend meal program for disadvantaged students. Hall said feeding children today will help them have brighter futures.

“The Chamber believes that our businesses and careers of the future will need the best and brightest as employees, CEOs and entrepreneurs” Hall said. “… If a student is hungry, they statistically won’t be able to concentrate on school. We want each and every student to have the best opportunities so that they can lead positive lives as citizens in Anna, or wherever they reside in adulthood.”

Hall said he believes the mentor program and Coyote Packs are positive steps in the right direction.

Hall said the GACC and its board of directors are humbled and honored to be recognized by the school board.

“Along with our chamber, three other businesses were nominated,” Hall said. “It is with great pride that we mention all three of these businesses are active members of the Anna chamber.”

Hall said the businesses being nominated shows strength in the city and a common goal.

“This proves that the school district, local businesses and Chamber of Commerce all have a community mindset and know that for one to succeed all must succeed,” Hall said. “We look forward to the many joint GACC and Anna ISD projects coming up this next school year.”