Summers feels at home in the library

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003

Unlike the movies, real-life heroes are often found in ordinary places, doing everyday things.

Kim Summers, this week's WSAZ Channel 3 Hometown Hero, can almost always be found in Whitwell Elementary's library.

The Ironton resident was recognized Thursday by the Huntington news channel for her many hours of volunteering and hard-work that has helped the school get students more interested in reading and build its library to include more than 3,400 books.

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"I just love working with the kids and getting them to read," Summers said. "I was always told if you cannot read, then you cannot do anything."

While the students and her daughter Keirann, 6, a first-grader at the school, looked on, Summers was honored inside the library that she has been so influential in expanding. The segment is scheduled to air on the 5 p.m. news today and the 5:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. news Saturday.

"It is wonderful to get this recognition, but it is not just me," she said. "I could not do it without all the other parents and volunteers."

Other volunteers said Summers is too modest and deserves all the attention that she received.

"I do not think there is a day that goes by that she is not there," Cathy Rapp said. "There is no way we would have this library without her."

Principal Annette Massie said that the recognition is overdue and agreed that without Summers and the other volunteers the school would not be able to offer such a tremendous reading program.

When Summers began volunteering 4 years ago, the school only had five small shelves of books and did not even have an actual library, she said.

Now, they have a full trailer behind the school that doubles as a computer lab. Murals of Winnie the Pooh, the Cat in the Hat, SpongeBob Squarepants and more were painted by Summers and her husband, Dwayne, to help create a kid-friendly environment.

Marissa Roberts, a 7-year-old first-grader, said she likes the library decorations because it really makes it a great place to learn.

"I like to read because it is fun," she said. "Mrs. Summers helps me with my (book reports)."

Although students only meet in the library once a week, reading has caught on. Four years ago, the students read 6,000 books. After reading more than 9,500 last year, and having already read 6,000 this year, the students are on pace to break this year's goal of 10,000, Summers said.

"The best thing ever said to me was by Susan Taylor of Operation Be Proud. She told me what a difference I made to her daughter, Alex, who goes to bed every night with a book in her hand," she said. "If I helped just one kid love books and feel that way, then it makes it all worthwhile."