Education Secretary helps with book donations to Coast

Published 7:04 pm Friday, December 15, 2006

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond Simon was on the Gulf Coast this week, joining the nonprofit group First Book to deliver millions of new books to schools and libraries in Hurricane Katrina-battered areas.

Simon, speaking on Wednesday at the Hancock County Library, said libraries and schools were the glue holding communities together.

This week national nonprofit group First Book, whose mission is to give books to children from low-income families, held its Holiday Book Donation with 200,000 new books delivered to schools and libraries here.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Simon joined Bay-Waveland School Superintendent Kim Stasny in reading to elementary students.

“Some of our children may never leave out of Bay St. Louis, but these new books open the world to our children,” Stasny said.

Simon also took time to praise Stasny, who was recently honored as Superintendent of the Year by the state Association of School Administrators.

Stasny took over the job of superintendent eight years ago. Previously she worked as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent.

After Hurricane Katrina, 90 percent of students and faculty at the schools were misplaced. Stasny led the effort to reopen the Bay-Waveland schools in just 47 days.

“I can’t imagine the effort it must have taken to get schools up and running in that length of time,” Simon said, praising Stasny’s efforts. “There has to be true American heroes involved in that.”

Despite the interruption in classes, the two schools earned exemplary status on state accreditation tests and the rest reached superior status. All schools met Adequate Yearly Progress as mandated by the federal accountability plan, No Child Left Behind.