(Posted Sept. 21, 2018)
By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer
After months of planning, fundraising, building and engraving, the memorial to the late and beloved London Elementary School principal Carol Daniels was unveiled on the school grounds on Sept. 12.
To say that Carol was a fan of books would be an understatement.
“She loved books,” said her daughter, Caty Abbott. “They were her passion.”
From the time Carol’s parents began reading bedtime stories to her to the time she spent pursuing higher education, Daniels spent much of her life with her nose stuck in a book.
When she could spare a moment away–and she always could spare time for anyone who needed it–she often would pivot to talking about books, sharing books, recommending books, buying books and encouraging others to pick one up and keep at it.
“She was amazing at everything, especially getting children to share in her love of reading,” said Alicia Anthony, a reading specialist at London City Schools.
While her love of books branched out to all areas, she likely never thought she would be featured in a book, let alone one the community rallied to put together.
It was shortly after she passed away last year due to cancer when her friends and colleagues began brainstorming ways to honor her indomitable spirit.
Initially, the planning committee thought of renaming the school in Carol’s honor but dismissed the idea after further consideration.
“I remember asking a few relatives who went to schools that were named in someone’s honor and none of them could tell me who they were or what they stood for,” said committee member Melinda Scott. “We didn’t want that for Carol. We wanted something that could explain who she was from those who knew her and show what she meant to all of us.”
After more deliberation, the committee agreed late last year that a monument in the shape of an open book, along with a description of Carol, would be a fitting tribute.
Her family was in favor of the decision.
“When they showed us the design, we said, ‘Yes, that’s her,’” said Abbott.
With the design in place, the committee set about raising funds for the 6-foot tall, red granite memorial. They drafted Anthony to write the tribute to be engraved on the book’s pages.
“At first I didn’t want to do it,” Anthony said, “but that was because I didn’t want to mess it up.”
Friends and colleagues encouraged her to do it, and she did.
In the tribute, Anthony writes that educators are weavers: “weavers of self-esteem, inspiration, courage and wonder.”
She went on to say that Carol was the ultimate weaver, instilling values in her students, bringing out the best in her teachers, and being the connective thread that strengthened the fabric of the school community.
“We all have our ‘Carol story’,” Anthony stated, adding that she was honored to play a part in the memorial project, but even more so to have known Carol.
“She was a remarkable person,” Anthony said after the unveiling ceremony. “She always had a smile on her face and would do anything in her power to help those in need.”
As for Carol’s family members, they said they were, and always will be, incredibly thankful to the community for the tribute to their beloved mother, wife, sibling, child and endless encourager.
“We are just overwhelmed and so humbled by the generosity of the community,” said Doris Anderson, Carol’s mother. “It has shown us how much she was loved by others and to show love, be loved and to give love is the greatest gift of life.”