Lake Norman & Mooresville

Retired teachers still educate children

In a time when budget cuts and layoffs seem to be the norm, two bright stars continue to shine and make a difference.

Several years ago, the Mooresville-Lake Norman Newcomers Club decided to fund a literacy program. But members were somewhat puzzled as to where to start. Two club members, longtime educators Monica Salter and Gloria DeWitt, stepped in and designed a very successful early-literacy program that is now expanding into the third grade.

Fellow club members Flo Hollands and Mary Wanzong, asked them to develop a program to bring new children's literature into the classrooms of the Mooresville/Lake Norman area schools.

The club helps women who are new to the area to get to know others who also have moved here. It also provides an atmosphere of friendliness and good will, while offering many social, charitable and civic opportunities to members.

The early-literacy program was established six years ago. DeWitt and Salter began brainstorming about what they would incorporate in the project. Entertaining age-appropriate literature, a writing component and some whimsical props would make up each book-sharing visit. After DeWitt and Salter introduced the concept to the club, its membership voted to fund the program for a year. Lakeshore Elementary School's first-grade classes were selected for the program.

Carrying their "Mary Poppins" bags filled with reading treasures, DeWitt and Salter made classroom visits and brought book donations at Lakeshore.

Today, club volunteers, mostly retired teachers, visit designated classrooms each month of the school year and share some literature that the club has bought. Volunteers, students and teachers look forward to the monthly visits.

The program has donated about 563 books, worth more than $6,700, to 61 first- and second-grade classrooms at Lakeshore, South, Mount Mourne, Rocky River and Shepherd elementary schools.

DeWitt and Salter, who remain co-chairs of the program, have recommended expanding it next year to include third-grade classes at Shepherd Elementary. Members agree the target group for the 2011-12 school year should be students in first through third grades.