Nurturing a love of reading

Hathaway Elementary library flourishes due to third-grade teacher's final wishes

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The Hathaway Elementary School library shelves are filled with approximately 300 new books, thanks to one woman’s love of reading and the generosity of many.

Susan Champion, a third-grade teacher at Hathaway Elementary for more than 20 years, passed away from cancer last spring.

In lieu of flowers, she asked that donations be made to her school library.

The response was more than $7,000 in donations to be spent on new books. The collection was on display during curriculum night last Tuesday.

“I would have long conversations with Susan and we talked about her favorite genres and what kind of stories she was passionate about,” said Kathy Stanton, school librarian. “Susan loved rich fairy tales, folk tales and mythology and how they created such a strong foundation for our culture.

“She also loved the silliness of Ground Hog Day, her favorite holiday to share with students.”

In addition to purchasing titles that fit Champion’s favorite interests, Stanton asked teachers what books they wished were available.

“I got wonderful input from all the teachers and shopped accordingly,” she said.

Stanton feels that the library’s selection of books about science has significantly expanded.

“We have some incredible new books on all aspects of science for students that are so beautiful and so interesting,” she said. “The kids will just love them.”

John Champion, Susan’s husband, is impressed by how much was donated towards the new books.

“Susan was all about the love and to now see all the love coming back to her through the donations for books is wonderful,’ he said.

His employer, Arcturus Marine Systems of Washougal and subsidiarity Nav-X Anchors, donated $1,000 each to the library fund.

“We have only spent half of the money raised, so we will keep on collecting titles of books that we need to add to the collection or replace the worn out, well-loved books,” Stanton said.

Laura Bolt, Hathaway principal, remembers Champion as very special teacher, colleague and friend.

“She touched so many lives,” she said. “Susan made learning fun, yet she held students to the highest expectations. Susan always had such a positive attitude about life, about school and about students. She believed in the best of everyone.”

Each book in the collection has a commemorative floral book plate in Champion’s honor.

“To see all of these books is overwhelming and beautiful,” said parent Nancy Kutchera. “Unfortunately, we do judge books by their covers and now it seems that the whole collection has been refreshed.

The books are beautiful and kids will be excited about what they will see on the shelf. I believe it will make a difference in the quality of students’ reading.”

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