SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — When Kimberly Thompson learned of the financial crisis facing Springfield City Schools, including budget cuts to libraries, she was determined to help the community in any way she could. The visiting instructor of English at Wittenberg quickly organized a university-wide book drive for school libraries throughout Springfield. The drive runs through Feb. 3.
After reading an article in the Springfield News-Sun detailing the impact of the school levy failure last November, Thompson was not only shocked, but also saddened by the future state of Springfield City Schools. Her passion for education influenced her to raise money for area schools, including elementary, middle and high schools, all of which have been forced to deal with library budget cuts as a result of a deepening budget shortfall in the district.
“Almost all of a child’s future educational development will be based on written texts,” said Thompson, a self-described voracious reader. “Books have the power to transport a child to another place or time period and offer him or her an experience that may not be accessible in everyday life.”
Though the book drive is her first attempt at sponsoring a fund-raiser, she hopes to pursue more fund-raising opportunities in the future. Thompson thanks Wittenberg faculty and staff for their moral support, but she is especially grateful to Lucille Cronin, head librarian at Snow Hill Elementary, and Wittenberg reference librarian Ken Irwin for helping with the project. Cronin developed the wish list of books requested from each Springfield city school, while Irwin created a Web site for online donations.
Currently, $900 has been pledged from Wittenberg faculty and staff. While each school has requested an average of 20 books, only 65 books have been collected so far. Those interested in donating may visit the Springfield City School Library Book Drive Web site.
In addition to getting more books into the hands of local children, Thompson not only hopes to foster their personal and intellectual development, but she also wants to draw attention to the plight of local schools as the community prepares for another levy early next month. According to district officials, budget cuts will be even more painful if the levy fails again.
“As fellow educators, we should feel a kinship with our public school counterparts and do everything in our power to ensure that the educational process runs smoothly from first grade through college,” she said.
Thompson’s book drive is one of several Wittenberg efforts aimed at benefiting the local school district. Wittenberg’s MLK Committee, which organized all of the celebratory and educational campus events surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16, is sponsoring Witt Reads, a service project created by Bruce Robinson of Cincinnati, Ohio, class of 2006. The project will be held in two phases. The first involves a book drive for elementary and middle-school students. During the second phase, which continues into February, also designated Black History Month, Wittenberg students, faculty and staff are encouraged to read to students in elementary and middle schools.
In addition, Wittenberg professors sponsored the first annual 5K Reformation Run/Walk to raise money for the Springfield City School District in October 2005. Organizers of the event included Assistant Professor of English Rick Incorvati, Assistant Professor of History Tammy Proctor, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Women’s Studies Nancy McHugh, Julie Holland, wife of Assistant Professor of Philosophy Miguel Martinez-Saenz, and Proctor’s husband, Todd Shirley.
- Sarah Gearhart '06