Cooke School’s business partnership is with Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Inc. (M.E.A.A.) located in Northville. The P.E.A.C.E. (Proving Excellence And Caring Exists) Committee at Mitsubishi Electric supports our school in many different ways.
Financial assistance is one. The Northville P.E.A.C.E. Committee members make decisions about how to distribute their local donations fund. They asked us for a “wish list” of equipment we could use to enhance the programs at Cooke. In 2002, they donated funds for new VCRs, digital cameras, electronic games, CD players and headphones for an innovative sensory program called therapeutic listening, and for some other specialized programs.
The P.E.A.C.E. Committee members were impressed with Cooke’s Point Store when they visited and thus decided to make a contribution to that particular program.
Another specialized program they chose to support is adapted physical education. We had put an adapted bicycle on the wish list. These bikes are designed for students with severe physical limitations, are very expensive, and don’t fit into our school budget. The P.E.A.C.E. Committee elected to buy one for us.
The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (http://www.meaf.org) matches donations made by the P.E.A.C.E. Committee.
During the 02-03 school year, we received a cash donation of more than $4000 from Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Inc. and the Foundation. This donation was used to purchase another adapted bicycle and much needed augmentative communication equipment.
The M.E.A.A. employees chose to become personally involved with our school. Their first offer was to give a Christmas party with the Cooke staff in December 2002. The idea behind the party was to provide a fun social activity for our students and to give a free evening to their parents. This first joint activity was a huge success. Mitsubishi Electric paid for all the refreshments and bought an individual gift for every student. The employees from Cooke and M.E.A.A. have since worked together to give two more parties to provide unforgettable evenings for our students.
Another way in which we’ve partnered has been through visits to the M.E.A.A. offices. In 2002 and 2003, we were invited to bring our Vocational Department’s craft bazaar to the Mitsubishi Electric headquarters. Our proud students were able to sell their crafts and have the chance to meet more of the M.E.A.A. staff. Every new community experience is good for learning, so this has been one more successful aspect of our partnership.
In November 2003, our two classrooms at Northville High School began Project Thanks, an effort to collect gift items for an adopted U.S. Army platoon stationed in Iraq. Cooke and NHS students, staff, and families made donations. This project grew to be much larger than we ever anticipated, partly because of the P.E.A.C.E. Committee members participation. Soon we had more gifts than we could afford to send, so Mitsubishi Electric donated all the shipping costs, and one of their employees talked UPS into donating all the packaging materials.
A unique aspect of our Mitsubishi Electric partnership is that the P.E.A.C.E. Committee members believe that they have received much more than they’ve given. Even though we have been the recipients of thousands of dollars and volunteer hours, the staff at Mitsubishi Electric feel that they have received more back from their experiences with our students. Our students are amazing young adults who have the gift of bringing out the best in the people they meet. They teach us new things every day, and we’ve been happy and proud to share some of those experiences with the M.E.A.A. employees. We think that our students have enriched their lives, and in turn the partnership has provided us with many opportunities to connect to our community to expand our “classrooms without walls.”