Literacy: A Lifelong Promise and Pursuit


Many of you have read or seen the book by Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You’ll Go! Terri loves this book and made sure our girls had it and, more importantly, internalized it.

One of my favorite lines from the book is, ““Kid, you'll move mountains.” I know I hope we equip our children to do so. It is a guaranteed fact as adults there will be mountains that will need moving and by then I will be too old to move many.

It is imperative we do what we can now to move the mountains currently in the way of our children so they can move others later on. Clinton Elementary School teacher, Kathy Weir, wrote a letter to her 5th grade students envisioning them as high school graduates. This letter’s tone and voice moved both Melodie Edwards, CES principal, and me to consider how we can make education the priority it must be in order for our students to meet with the success they must have.

Please take the time to read carefully the letter from Ms. Weir listed below.

“Dear 5th graders,

Oh the Places You’ll Go! and the things you will see when you focus your energies on goals…one, two, three!”

I see you as the Clinton High School class of 2023 – 2024. Wow! That seems so far away! But that year will come before you know it!

I see you as class president, as cheerleaders and star athletes, track runners and math whizzes. I see you as Science Olympiad team members, drummers and musicians. I see you winning scholarships and dreaming about Clemson and Carolina roommates.

I see you writing beautiful stories and crying over successes you have achieved because you have worked hard! I see you grinning as you move your tassel because you graduated!! I see you hugging your mom, dad, aunt, grandmother and grandfather because they made it with you.

I see your younger brothers and sisters looking up to you because you represent their dreams and goals. I see you achieving your goals and going on to be successful in the world.


In 5th grade you didn’t think you could, but I believed in you because you had set your sight on lofty goals and worked hard to achieve them. Good luck!

Ms. Kathy Weir”

Ms. Weir’s optimism is exactly what makes teachers get up day after day and work patiently planting and nurturing the seeds of literacy. Unfortunately, the truth is this: we who are on the front lines can’t do it alone. Our community’s population is not what it was twenty or even ten years ago. With the collapse of our textile mills, the very social and economic fabric that defined and showcased a proud self-sufficient community was tragically torn. But we Clintonians are resilient. We are optimists. We are too stubborn to quit or lose.

Please note the last line in Ms. Weir’s letter…”Good luck.” We often downplay luck but as Coach Keith Richardson used to say, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Remember when I said we educators can’t do it alone? This is how you can help us. On October 29th the City of Clinton will host its “Trunk or Treat” along Broad Street.

Laurens County School District 56 is currently in a used book drive (children AND adult books). Kathy Lapomarda, District Literacy Coach, is beating the bushes looking for books to give to our students and our parents.

Ms. Lapomarda said, “Literacy is one of the most important skills needed to succeed in our society. Regardless of where you live, access to books or the materials needed to learn is a challenge for some children. Providing access to books and school supplies for underserved children helps to reduce a major barrier to learning. On National World Literacy Day, Laurens 56 kicked off a Book Drive. All students, teachers, parents and community members are encouraged to bring new or gently used books to the schools of Laurens 56. Many families don’t know what to do with the children’s books their own kids have outgrown. Please help and give (un)used books a second life. By doing this you live by the idea of resource sharing and helping those less fortunate.”

Used books can be donated to the district office or any school. So please help us in our pursuit of making Ms. Weir’s dream a reality and Ms. Lapomarda’s reality some child’s dream. Trust me, our children are worth it and their future demands it.


(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens County School District 56.)


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