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William C. & Georgia Sims Carson

William C. &
Georgia Sims Carson

TO A DYING SCHOOL, THEY BROUGHT NEW LIFE

Honored October, 2007

 

William C. 'Bill' and Georgia Sims Carson

Some people prepare their bank accounts for retirement, but not their lives, and wind up feeling bored and useless. Such was not the case with Bill and Georgia Carson. When they retired in 1995 to Santa Fe, which Bill had loved since first visiting in the 1930s, they came determined to make a contribution. And they did--in a remarkable way.

Active in the United Church, they listened at a small gathering when a fellow member spoke about the special problems of low-income schools such as Salazar Elementary, of which she was principal. With 90 percent of the pupils below the federal poverty line, many of them unskilled in English, with parents too poor to support school programs, Salazar had an annual student-turnover rate of 37 percent, and consistently failed to meet minimum achievement levels. The state was ready to take over the school.

Instead it was adopted by the Carsons, who in 1998 founded the unique Salazar Partnership, to pull the school up by its bootstraps. Emphasizing personal involvement over financial aid, the program started with six volunteers ready to go into the classrooms to assist the struggling teachers any way they could. At first the teachers were resistant, suspicious that some know-it-all outsiders were butting in to tell them how to do their jobs. But with Bill and Georgia insisting that the volunteers were there to help, not make decisions, slowly but surely the teachers came around, and the program grew.