Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

The volunteers--all over 50 and many of them retired--did many things. They read books aloud to the children. They bonded with individual pupils and became personal tutors in difficult subjects. They assisted with field trips and events at the school. They enabled the overworked teachers to take a break from time to time. Bill and Georgia kept recruiting, and the number of volunteers kept getting larger. As did their contributions.

The Salazar Partnership decided that every child should be given a dictionary--certainly in English, and often in Spanish. Soon every child was also being given a book to own and read--and after a while, every child was getting three books a year. Reference books, bookshelves and other supplies were bought for the school. Because good health is an essential part of good education, the Partnership arranged for a full-time nurse and physical-education instructor at the school. With La Familia Medical Center, a Healthy Schools program was initiated to provide care, for pupils and their families. A fund was set up to help students’ families in emergencies. An art club was started. When Agua Fria Elementary asked to be taken into the Partnership, it was embraced with all the benefits.

Through it all, both Bill and Georgia have been active in numerous other local causes--the city Children and Youth Commission, the Museum of International Folk Art, various committees with the Santa Fe Public Schools. They were equally involved in their home state of Illinois before moving here. Yet since coming to Santa Fe, their focus has been the Salazar Partnership. The results have been astonishing. Long ago the number of active volunteers passed the 100 mark. The number of books distributed neared the 20,000 mark. Salazar Elementary, once on the verge of being condemned by the state, regained its academic standing, and was declared a “profile in excellence.”

“For children to know that there is a person who truly cares about them, and cares that they succeed in school, is probably one of the most important gifts that an adult can give to a child,” wrote a teacher nominating Bill and Georgia to be Living Treasures. “I really believe that their good hearts will always continue to beat in the halls of Salazar Elementary, for they helped give it a new life.” Summed up someone else, saluting their marriage as well as their work: “Simply put, Bill and Georgia Carson are my heroes.”


Story by Richard McCord

Photo © 2007 Steve Northup