The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's annual "Taste of Lawrence" fall mixer welcomed back Douglas County educators on Wednesday with an eccentric palette of food and drink from area vendors.
Thirty-one restaurants and specialty shops from Pachamama's to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory served food from tents set up at Meadowbrook Apartments in exchange for $20 tickets. Sponsorships from several chamber member businesses allowed K-12 educators to get tickets for $10.
The mixer's main goal is to unite educators and business owners to highlight the Business/Education Partnership, said Cathy Lewis, director of chamber programs.
The partnerships are an effort between the school district and a business to improve the academic and personal growth of students.
It's a way for businesses to get involved in the community and raise awareness of their business, said Sarah Martin, program director, and it exposes students to the business world so they can learn how education will help in a future profession.
One successful partnership has matched the school district with Firstar Bank and the Lied Center in a program called "Adventures in Imagination." Among other activities, the program sends visiting artists into schools and brings students to the Lied Center for performances, said Cassandra Howard, director of education at the center. In return, teachers help plan activities that will enhance the curriculum.
"We're really proud of the fact that everything we do supports the curriculum," Howard said.
Deena Burnett, a sixth-grade teacher at Langston Hughes School and member of the Lawrence Education Committee, said her own children had benefited from a partnership with Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Hospital personnel have gone to Pinckney School where one of Burnett's children is in fourth grade to teach students medical lessons they might not otherwise get in school, Burnett said.
Much of the money from ticket sales to the invitation-only mixer went to vendors for providing food, said chamber president Bill Sepic.