UA Little Rock employee raising money to provide books for Mabelvale students

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock employee is raising money to provide multicultural books for second-graders in Mabelvale. 

Tammy Sue Garrison, training coordinator for the IDEA Data and Research Office in the Center for Applied Studies in Education, was inspired by her future daughter-in-law, Catie Crenshaw, a second-grade teacher at Mabelvale Elementary School who is engaged to marry Garrison’s son, Nick, in June 2018.

“Catie is an excellent teacher, having been picked for a special program for extra training for teachers who are demonstrating exceptional teaching skills,” Garrison said. “The school believes in her and believes Catie can have those children reading at grade level by the end of the year. In this small way, I want to help her and hopefully increase her students’ self-esteem.”

Crenshaw has a multicultural class of 25 students. After being invited to read to the class, Garrison wanted to do more to make reading fun and interesting for the kids.

“I think it’s so important to be able to read and read well. If you can read, you can open so many doors for your future,” Garrison said. “If you can read, you can get a degree and go further in life.”

Garrison will give each student a copy of the book, “Skin Again,” when she reads to the class on Feb. 23 to celebrate Black History Month. The children’s book offers new ways to talk about race and identity while celebrating what makes people unique and different.

Garrison originally set up a GoFundMe page to raise $500 to provide the class of students with multicultural books and a classroom library from Scholastic Book Club.

Tammy Sue Garrison
Tammy Sue Garrison

Having raised $500 in three days, Garrison raised her goal to $1,500, hoping to provide books to all 95 second-graders at Mabelvale Elementary.

Kristen Ashley, a New York Times Bestselling Author who Garrison reads daily, donated $300 to the cause and told Garrison she was “doing a good thing.”

“I would love to put a book in each student’s hand that they could read and take home with them,” Garrison said. “I want to translate the book for the children whose parents speak another language, so the students can read it to their parents at home. The children can be proud of who they are and have some more confidence in their ability to read.”

Garrison, who has previously worked as a speech therapist in Pulaski County Special School District, said education has always been an issue close to her heart.

“Education has always been something I have been a part of. It’s very important to me,” Garrison said. “The time I felt I made the most difference is when I was working in a language class for kindergartners who were reading at a lower level, and our focus was to bring them up to the kindergarten level so they could enter first grade on time.”

As of Nov. 9, Garrison has raised $975 and is $525 short of her $1,500 goal. Donations to Garrison’s campaign can be made at this online link.

In the upper right photo, Tammy Sue Garrison’s son, Nick, is shown with his fiancee, Catie Crenshaw, a second-grade teacher at Mabelvale Elementary School.

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