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Sumter Education Foundation's $500K book initiative halfway there

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 9/11/19

It's been about three years in the works, but the philanthropic arm of Sumter School District has just passed the halfway mark in a literacy program fundraising initiative to provide hundreds of books in each classroom.

Susan Hilton, chairwoman …

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Sumter Education Foundation's $500K book initiative halfway there

Posted

It's been about three years in the works, but the philanthropic arm of Sumter School District has just passed the halfway mark in a literacy program fundraising initiative to provide hundreds of books in each classroom.

Susan Hilton, chairwoman of the Sumter Education Foundation, shared Monday night with Sumter School District's Board of Trustees a progress update on the 501(c)(3) organization's 500 for $500K campaign to provide up to 500 reading books in all the district teachers' classrooms.

After the state passed comprehensive new literacy standards for students a few years ago in the Read to Succeed Act, district teachers told the foundation the best way they could help is by providing books for classrooms.

At the time, Hilton - who had recently joined the board of directors for the foundation after retiring herself as a teacher - said foundation members told teachers they were all in and "we have your back."

Three years in and the foundation has raised $254,424 to date, Hilton said.

In the initiative, corporate sponsors or individuals can make donations, and teachers then order their own books for their classroom libraries from either of two book companies.

To date, books have been distributed to all 15 elementary schools in the district, though not necessarily every teacher in those schools, and four middle schools. Three middle schools remain and the district's high schools.

Hilton said middle school and high school books are more expensive than elementary school books.

When the books arrive to the district, the foundation's 15 board members actually make the deliveries to the schools, she said.

"It's so satisfying to put books in the hands of children," Hilton said. "It's so wonderful. The children are excited, and the teachers are very grateful from what I can tell in their response."

Another special aspect of the cause, Hilton said, is donations can be personalized to honor or memorialize someone.

A label is created and put in all the books that a donation purchased with the person's name in it, and a thank you note is sent from the foundation to the appropriate parties.

"That's such a nice touch, I believe," Hilton said. "That's the gift that keeps on giving."

Makeup day for hurricane set

After schools were closed Thursday due to Hurricane Dorian, students will make up that day on Monday, Oct. 21, according to district Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox. That is an inclement weather makeup day designated on the district's calendar this year. The day was previously a teacher workday, or in-service day.

In other news

- The school board unanimously approved the district's personnel report as recommended by Martin-Knox with a 9-0 vote.

- Samuel Myers is the school district's new executive director of operations. Myers was previously the Safe Schools administrator at Crestwood High School. Myers replaces Dana Fall in the district's top operations post. Fall, formerly the district's chief operations officer, was named superintendent of Cherokee County School District in Gaffney in June.

- Area 4 Trustee and Finance Committee Chairman Johnny Hilton announced the board's advisory Finance Committee will have its monthly meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the district office, 1345 Wilson Hall Road.