In William Cabell Elementary, philanthropist Serena Simmons Connelly saw an opportunity to impact the families in her community. Inspired to visit the school after hearing about the Personalized Learning Initiative, Connelly spoke with Principal Dr. Jo Anne Hughes about how engaging neighborhood residents can make a difference in their local school.
“The school has a good amount of land but they never had much playground equipment,” Connelly said, adding that this was a project the neighborhood could get behind. “Kids need a place to play. They need some brightness and beauty in their surroundings.”
Hughes knows how important such a space is to students. “Children are at their highest level of development when they are at play,” she said. “The playground will advance the development of the students at Cabell as well as all the children in the community.”
Connelly generously underwrote the entire project, scheduled to be completed sometime this spring, and her commitment doesn’t stop there. She noted that, “Just by being in the school I learned a lot about what the successes were, and where they needed more support.”
She now sits on the advisory board for the school’s Personalized Learning Initiative, and is in the process of becoming a volunteer reader at the school. Other neighbors are also getting involved, bringing the many resources of the community to Cabell students.
Hughes knows the impact of the donation will be substantial, saying “Cabell is overwhelmed by Ms. Connelly’s generous support of the development of our school, our students and our community.”
Connelly said, “We all read about the problems the public schools are having, but it’s important to learn how we can make a difference.”