Haleigh Donovan says she was fortunate to grow up in Westport. Among her many advantages: “tons of books,” in school and at home.
After graduating from Staples High in 2014, and with a major in communications and a minor in international studies 4 from the College of Charleston 4 years later, she headed to Thailand.
Her year teaching math and science to 1st graders was a “fantastic” experience. She is still in touch with students’ parents, via Facebook.
Haleigh returned to the US, and worked as a dining coordinator. She was furloughed during COVID, and pivoted to healthcare PR.
But that was not her passion. She remembered her excitement about teaching. Every Sunday, she was excited for the week ahead.
Last spring, she explored College of Charleston’s masters in elementary education program. Her parents — Dan and Nicole Donovan, both of whom also graduated from Staples — supported her fully.
This fall, she will teach 4th graders at Pinehurst Elementary School, in North Charleston.
Just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, it’s a Title I school: low income, high need. Most students are Hispanic; many are not native English speakers.
Every student eats breakfast there. Before remote learning days, they’re sent home with food.
Haleigh is excited. And she wants to make sure her students have a solid classroom library.
The Donovan family is large. She began by asking her 5 siblings and many cousins – spread across the country — for contributions.
But they’re around her age. They don’t have many children’s books lying around.
So she’s asking “06880” readers for their picture and chapter books.
“I’m old-fashioned,” Haleigh says. “There’s nothing better than an actual book you can hold. I want to give these incredible kids access to those books.”
She is grateful for the opportunities she had growing up. She thinks back to her Staples senior internship at Coleytown Elementary School — where she also substitute taught this winter, when she was back in Westport.
There’s no reason, she says, her Pinehurst students should not have books too.
Haleigh invites anyone with books to contribute to her 4th grade classroom to email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She’ll be in Westport until mid-June. Then she’ll be back in Charleston, getting her classroom — and its library — ready for fall.