PUBLISHED: 4:04 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Juneau school district, U.S. Coast Guard sign agreement promoting volunteers through Big Brothers Big Sisters
Juneau School District Superintendent Peggy Cowan and Rear Admiral Arthur E. Brooks, Commander U.S. Coast Guard 17th District, will sign an important partnership agreement today promoting more Coast Guard employee participation in Juneau Schools.

The memorandum of agreement augments the Coast Guard's national Partnership in Education program and encourages even more Coast Guard volunteers in the Juneau Schools by allowing military and civilian employees one hour each week during the school day to volunteer as mentors through the Big Brothers Big Sisters School Program.

"For the past eight years the Juneau School District has relied on Big Brothers Big Sisters to help coordinate adult mentors in our schools," Cowan said.

"We are thrilled that the Coast Guard has recognized the value of that program and know that our students will benefit from the Coast Guard's commitment to education in our community."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska brings adult volunteers into the Juneau elementary and middle schools for one-to-one mentoring.

"We are very excited about this new partnership because it means the Coast Guard's mandate for education, our mission and the school district's desire for more volunteers in Juneau schools will all come together," said Marc Wheeler of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

"The result will be more caring adult mentors helping Juneau school children reach their potential through simple friendships and by being a positive presence in their lives," Wheeler said.

"Admiral Brooks is committed to supporting the Coast Guard's Partnership in Education program and to encouraging Coast Guard involvement in the community," said Lt. Eric Eggen, Public Affairs Officer for the 17th Coast Guard District. "This is a great way for our employees to be active in the education of children," he said.

"Our employees want to make a positive difference."

Betsy Brenneman, Director of Recruitment and Partnership Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said a national study on their organization's school-based mentoring program that was recently presented to the Juneau School Board, showed adult mentoring makes a significant difference in children's lives.

"We now have the data to show it has a significant impact on academic success and on children's feelings of self confidence about school and their future," Brenneman said.

"The more adults we can bring into the program, the more positive impact on our children, classrooms, schools and the community."

"This agreement is a wonderful opportunity for Juneau," Cowan said. "We are grateful to the Coast Guard and Big Brothers Big Sisters for what we know will continue to be a successful partnership on behalf of students."