Some of the most important lessons are not found in textbooks. That's been the case recently at Shaw Heights Elementary School in Sumter School District.
Two of the key qualities teachers and staff try to teach students to demonstrate in their …
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Two of the key qualities teachers and staff try to teach students to demonstrate in their everyday lives are to be caring and kind. Shaw Heights' enrollment is 521 students and consists of second and third grades.
After school custodian and crossing guard Daniel Ramos was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in October and no longer able to work, teachers and staff decided it would be a good idea to involve the student body in showing support to Ramos and his family.
What has ensued has been a school-wide effort - filled with creative activities - that has surpassed initial expectations and raised about $1,900 through last week for Ramos, his wife and two daughters.
For four Tuesdays through this week, it's been "Wear Red for Mr. Ramos" days at the school, which is actually on Shaw Air Force Base.
On each Tuesday, students were encouraged to wear red to show support for Ramos and also donate coins or cash, if they could, during lunchtime in a large red bucket at the school.
Teachers and staff were encouraged to do likewise, and for an extra $5 they could wear jeans to school on those days. All proceeds will go to Ramos and his family.
The school also organized a "Desserts for Daniel" day on its Thanksgiving feast day for second-graders, just before the holiday. On that day, students' parents and staff brought in dessert items for sale for 50 cents or $1.
That one-day bake sale raised more than $600 for Ramos and his family, according to teacher Jennifer Mitchell. She and the school's literacy coach, Melissa Porter, has been leading the fundraising efforts.
Mitchell said she was amazed and in tears on that day. Several parents bought one dessert, paid with a $10 bill and told staff to keep the change.
"One parent even bought $2 worth of desserts and paid with a $50 bill and said, 'Keep the change,'" Mitchell said.
Mitchell said another "Desserts for Daniel" day is planned for next week.
Soon, the school will also begin a "Holiday Happy-Gram" fundraiser, where students can send a note telegram with a candy cane to someone else at the school for $1.
Other schools in the district have also donated to support Ramos. Those include High Hills Elementary, which is also on base, and Pocalla Springs Elementary, where Ramos' two daughters attend.
An area church is also sponsoring his two daughters for Christmas gifts.
Mitchell said the total amount raised will go to help the family with needs such as electric bills once his family medical leave time runs out.
School guidance counselor Katresa Charles said Ramos has said he's been touched by the response from students and staff and just wants everyone to keep praying for him and his family. Ramos is 41 years old.
Mitchell said she's been surprised by the level of support.
"It's gone beyond what I thought it would go," Mitchell said. "I thought we may raise 1,000 bucks or so, especially this time of year when people are saving money for their kids' Christmas and everything else. It's raised way more than we thought it would raise."
Mitchell said teachers have told students that Ramos may not come back and that everyone has to wait and see. As far as Ramos' health, Mitchell said the school continues to pray for a miracle.
When asked why she has given to support Ramos, third-grader Michaela Yates seemed to capture the spirit of giving, caring and kindness.
"Because if I were one of Mr. Ramos' kids, I would want something for Christmas," she said, "and that's why I gave him something."
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