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Darling Storms Shelby

The sounds of laughter echoed through the gym at James Love Elementary School in Shelby, North Carolina on Friday, December 2, as Sting guard Helen Darling and local children�s author Kimberly P. Johnson stopped by for a special visit.

With the children divided into two separate groups, one made up of kindergartners and first graders, the other of second and third graders, Darling and Johnson used their talents to not only entertain the kids but teach them important lessons about literacy and learning.

As the kindergartners and first graders arrived in the gym, Darling and Johnson made sure they were all grinning from ear to ear as they had them pull their smiles from their pockets, stretch them out and put them on their faces.

The kids then had the opportunity to showcase their listening and rhyming skills as they worked together to make a work of art. To make it even more fun, they got one of their teachers involved. As Darling read sentences, the kids filled in the blanks with rhyming words. As each word was yelled out, their teacher drew it on the board. Eventually the face of a clown emerged.

�It was wonderful,� said Assistant Principal Pat Jones. �The boys and girls really enjoyed it. They have such a wonderful way of getting the children to listen and respond. The kids really experienced the joy of learning.�

With the second and third graders, Johnson and Darling talked about what was involved with each of their different careers. They then asked the kids what they wanted to be. The answers ranged from football player, to artist, to cheerleader and police officer. Regardless of what they wanted to be, Johnson and Darling pointed out that you have to get an education, work hard and be able to read.

The kids were then awed as Johnson shared with them the story a Giraffe and a Half by Shell Silverstein. The book contains a list of things that are added to the giraffe to make him taller. Each time she read the list, Johnson would read it faster and faster, until she was reading at warp speed. The kids, thoroughly enthralled, encouraged her by cheering her on each time she approached the list. Darling also demonstrated the fun of reading by sharing some of her favorite poems from Johnson�s book Paperbook Poetry.

�It was so much fun,� said Holli Goforth, a third grade teacher. �The things they said about reading and writing are what the kids need to hear. They hear it all the time but it�s good for them to hear it from people who have jobs that they admire.�

As the kids left, they each received an autographed copy of one of Johnson�s books, courtesy of the Shelby Rotary Club, along with a bookmark.

�This was awesome,� said Darling. �I can�t even describe it. The kids were great. Hopefully they learned that reading can be fun and that listening is important.�

Following their appearance at James Love Elementary, Darling and Johnson headed over to the Shelby Rotary Club, where they were spoke to the members.

They shared with them their experience at the elementary school and then spoke a little bit about their philanthropic endeavors. Darling spoke about how important it is to reach out to young people, especially girls, and help them find areas in which to succeed.

�I was the first person in my family to go to college,� she related to them. �I couldn�t have done that without athletics.�

The message seemed to resonate with the members as many came up to speak with the duo following the luncheon. It seems that through their visit, both at the elementary school and at the rotary luncheon, Johnson and Darling made an impact in Shelby that will last a long time.