HCDA & Hamilton County School District Partner to Improve Educational Outcomes

JASPER, FL – Today, the Hamilton County Development Authority (HCDA) announced the launch of the First Responders Lunch with Students program beginning the week of Veterans Day. Each day of the week a different group of First Responders will be invited to have lunch at the school, in uniform, with the students. Police Officers from the three municipalities, the Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Personnel, Community Emergency Response Team members (CERT), Emergency Operations Center personnel/volunteers and Veterans are included in this program.

HCDA Executive Director Susan Ramsey said, “This program aims to invite first responders into the schools on a regular basis to provide students with a healthy first impression of our local heroes and break down barriers. We believe the luncheons will build relationships with the students and these community leaders, will deter violence and bullying as well as inspire careers for our future workforce.”

This initiative is another Program created by the Economic Development and Education Task Force. The goal of the Task Force is to identify challenges and opportunities to improve educational outcomes and increase the county’s economic vitality. The task force includes:

  • Susan Ramsey, Executive Director, HCDA
  • Nat Combass, Chair, HCDA
  • Rex Mitchell, Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools
  • Philip Pinello, Assistant Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools
  • Chris Combass, School Safety Director
  • Ida Daniels, Coordinator, Food and Nutrition Services Department
  • Phyllis Porter, Coordinator, Special Services
  • Betty Linton, Coordinator, Exceptional Student Education
  • Vernon Douglas, School Board Attorney, Hamilton County Schools

Assistant Superintendent Philip Pinello said, “This partnership provides additional support and resources that will enhance our educational services. We appreciate the Development Authority partnering with us to think outside the box to engage our community stakeholders.”

School Safety Director Chris Combass said, “We are focused on developing programs that encourage community partnerships as well as those that foster safe learning environments. With regards to school safety, our goal is to be proactive, ensure that interventions are in place for students experiencing difficulties and to always be prepared. Our First Responders are an essential part of our preparedness plan.”

Ida Daniels Coordinator of the Food and Nutrition Services Department said, “Hamilton County School District and the Hamilton County Food and Nutrition Services Department would be honored to have our First Responders join us for lunch as a small token of appreciation for the dedication and protection provided throughout the community.”

The First Responders Lunch Program Week is November 12th – 16th, the schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, November 12th:  Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – All EMS and CERT members/volunteers invited to attend.
  • Tuesday, November 13th:  Fire Rescue – All Fire Rescue Members invited to attend.
  • Wednesday, November 14th:  Veterans Appreciation Day. All Veterans are invited to attend – please wear your uniform.
  • Thursday, November 15th:  City Police Departments – Police Officers from Jasper, Jennings and White Springs invited to attend.
  • Friday, November 16th:  Sheriff’s Office – All Sheriff’s Officers invited to attend.

Lunch Times:

  • Middle School – 10:51 – 11:21
  • High School, First Lunch – 11:46 – 12:16
  • High School, Second Lunch – 12:41 – 1:11

For more information, please contact Chris Combass, School Safety Director, (386) 792-7814. First responders are asked to wear their uniform for lunch.