By Danna Downing
Years of substitute teaching in the Vicksburg Community Schools inspired our family to relocate to Vicksburg in 1975. As a stay-at-home mom I was able to jump into the community via the local cooperative nursery school and Sunset Elementary. I was sent to the Village Council meeting by our newly formed Sunset Parent Club to inquire about hiring a crossing guard for Sunset students. There was Sue, covering the story for the Vicksburg Commercial Express. Sue’s connection to the VCS School Board and the Commercial Express cemented the foundation for a 40-plus year stretch of community engagement and a deep friendship.
School funding was a perennial problem in those days too, of course, and a group of community members started an advocacy group called KEEP GOOD SCHOOLS FOR KIDS (KGSFK) to provide information and encourage voters to learn about the importance of the 1980 school millage election. At one of those meetings I volunteered to meet with Sue to discuss having an ad in the Vicksburg Commercial Express about the upcoming election. It was a Wednesday when I popped into the office with my request. Sue told me it was deadline day and I was “just in time.” I was asked to come back that evening so she could help me create the ad. We worked long into the evening to get the job done. Gratefully, I asked what I could do to show my appreciation. “Come back next Wednesday night and help us put the paper together,” she quipped with a smile. I did come back and got hooked on helping with the publication.
Fortunately, the millage passed with a record turnout in favor of the proposal. It truly was a learning experience for all involved and as a result KGSFK decided to continue its advocacy with the schools and legislators to look for more secure funding for Michigan schools. This was the genesis of the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation that we know and appreciate today. Sue changed my life forever as a friend, mentor, activist and collaborator. She helped change this community forever.
By Danna Downing