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Story: After fire, a gift for Fairington Elementary

State School Superintendent Richard Woods, along with a handful of GaDOE employees, spent last Friday loading up a carful of boxes and bags.

There were paints and pencils and scissors. Big, rough stacks of construction paper, ready to be sliced into works of five-year-old art. Easels and glue sticks and crayons and boxes of hand sanitizer.


The car, loaded up, chugged along and arrived at Fairington Elementary School, in DeKalb County. Weeks earlier, the school was damaged by fire. Water, smoke, and soot damage settled over the kindergarten wing, displacing one class entirely.

When Superintendent Woods heard about the fire, he asked GaDOE employees to donate supplies -- whatever they could -- to the students affected. Students had returned to school and, remarkably, did not miss any class, he wrote. But they were missing educational supplies, and they needed our help.


These are our schools,” Superintendent Woods said. “These are our students, Georgia’s students. Serving them is the whole reason we’re here. I knew anything we could do would be a small gesture compared to what they’d lost, but I hope they’ll know we care about them, that we care about their education.”

When he arrived at the school, Superintendent Woods stopped in classrooms to visit students, along with State Board of Education member Lisa Kennemore, whose district includes DeKalb County, and DeKalb Superintendent Michael Thurmond. He spoke with the kindergarten students whose classroom had sustained the most damage and, one by one, they began telling him what they’d lost in the fire.


A pencil case. A backpack. A package of crayons. All items chosen with such care by five-year-olds, in the last days of summer before school begins.

Later, those students sat with the Superintendent in the middle of the pile of boxes and bags, each choosing an item or two just for themselves -- something special to replace what they’d lost.


That’s the kind of moment that makes it all worth it,” Superintendent Woods said. “And I’m so grateful to GaDOE employees, and all others who have donated and come through for this school. I hope these students have a wonderful finish to their kindergarten year, and I hope we contributed to that a little bit.”