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Charter students spend the day at Livingstone after water shut-off

EAST SPENCER — A local charter school was forced to move Monday while a town water line was replaced.

Jonathan Pullin, principal of Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School, said he was told by East Spencer officials Friday afternoon the school would be without water for three hours Monday while the town replaced water pipes.

He knew something had to be done.

“Kids with no water for three hours is a disaster,” Pullin said.

Particularly in a school serving 100 elementary students.

Pullin said he first reached out to Mayor Barbara Mallett and Town Administrator F.E. Isenhour.

“And they said there was nothing they could do, so of course I had to go into action,” he said.

The town suggested that the school bring in water to manually flush toilets. Pullin didn’t think that was an option, and it also didn’t solve the problem about preparing lunch.

So Pullin on Saturday morning called Livingstone College President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. Jenkins and Pullin are both members of the Salisbury Rotary Club, and Pullin said they’d talked a few times at club meetings.

“He was the first person who popped into my mind,” Pullin said. “He said, ‘Whatever you need, just let me know.’”

Jenkins offered to let the charter school students spend Monday at the college’s School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, located in a former hotel on Jake Alexander Boulevard. Livingstone employees spent the weekend setting up tables, chairs and audio-visual equipment for the school to use.

“We didn’t have to do anything other than manage our kids. … It was seamless,” Pullin said.

Livingstone did not charge the school to use its facilities.

Pullin told parents about the move ahead of time, but students found out during the school’s family meeting Monday morning. The water shut-off was scheduled in the middle of the day, so after breakfast and a short break at the East Spencer building, students were loaded onto buses and went to Livingstone.

At the culinary arts school, students learned a little bit about Livingstone before settling into classes in the ballroom. One side of the room was used for a Spanish lesson; students practiced art on the other side.

“And then we switched the two over,” Pullin said.

Students had lunch and a recreation period and watched a short movie before returning to East Spencer for afternoon classes.

“It was beautiful; it went so smoothly,” Pullin said.

He said the students were excited and inspired by their visit to Livingstone.

“We have students who are now saying they want to go to Livingstone’s culinary school,” Pullin said with a chuckle.

Some want a return visit during the school year.

“Livingstone College is a community partner. We are in the business of education just like Essie’s school, and we strive to be a service and resource to the entire community,” said State W. Alexander III, vice president of public relations at Livingstone. “But more than that, we are a Christian-based institution, guided by the principles of love and charity. … As our president often likes to say, ‘Love is an action word.’”

Pullin said he knows if he needs anything in the future, Livingstone — and other Rotary Club members — will answer.

“I cannot tell you how good I feel. It’s a good feeling,” he said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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