Books donated to SJE to honor legacy of Jean Taylor

Kristen Nicholson, far rights, donates books Aug. 28 to St. John’s Elementary School to fulfill a promise to her mother who passed away last November. Photo by Melissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Jean Taylor loved St. John’s Elementary School (SJE). She dedicated 43 years of her life to the school, having only spent two years of her 45-year-career in the Darlington County School District somewhere else. Her love for the school, its students and faculty is still visible, even though Taylor passed away last November.
On Monday Aug. 28, Taylor’s daughter Kristen Nicholson, a Literacy Coach at North Hartsville Elementary School, fulfilled one of her mother’s wishes when she donated over 300 books to the students of SJE.
“Last spring my principal allowed us (at North Hartsville) to purchase books for classroom libraries,” Nicholson said. “We set up a shop for individual teachers to choose books to increase their personal classroom libraries…. Momma loved the idea and asked me to help make it happen for SJE to open the next school year.”
Taylor passed before those plans could be completed.
“I was determined to fulfill my promise to her,” Nicholson said. “My family agreed. We set up the memorial in November and the DCSD office graciously managed the donations. Many donated from Darlington County and we received donations from friends and colleagues up and down the eastern seaboard. It was amazing the movement that supported this vision.”
Though many people who grow up in a small town endeavor to grow up and move away, Taylor had other ideas.
“My mother was a small town girl, born and raised in Darlington County,” Nicholson said. “She actually attended and graduated from St. John’s, on the campus she later led as principal for 25 years. Her life’s mission was to make a difference in the lives of students just like her, those fortunate enough to be born in this county.”
Nicholson said that the community came together for this project, and for her family when they needed it most.
“The overwhelming outpouring of support that followed her death was incredible and donations exceeding $1,800 poured in to help her fulfill her last tribute,” Nicholson said.
“The memorial is her final tangible contribution to her students and teachers but the tradition of education she instilled in three generations of SJE students and parents will live on as a lasting tribute to her vision.”
The books were purchased through Booksource and Nicholson said that when the company learned what the books were going toward they donated six of their favorite books to honor Taylor’s legacy as an educator and a promoter of literacy.
“This humbling gesture echoes her spirit of giving, serving where you’re planted, and always putting children first,” Nicholson said.
The Taylor family would like to thank the DCSD Office for their role in collecting, Booksource for rising to the occasion and graciously rewarding students further, and the community for supporting this endeavor.
“We encourage others to live by Mom’s example,” Nicholson said. “Serve where you’re lucky enough to be planted, in any capacity you see needed.”

Author: Duane Childers

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