Rankin Elementary School's 'Shoe Lady' helps students put their best foot forward

What's Right with Our Schools
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GREENSBORO, N.C. — At Rankin Elementary in Greensboro, they call her the “Shoe Lady.”

Youth Development Coordinator Crystal Black is just fine with that. It’s not because she wears cool shoes. It is because she noticed shoes the kids were wearing and decided to work to get them new ones.

“I see it every day,” she said. “I see them too small, and they are inching down the hallway because their feet are hurting or they are flopping and you can hear this big flop because they are two or three sizes too big.”

She started helping the worst cases she saw, buying new shoes for them with money from her own pocket. But when that became too expensive, she started asking her Facebook friends help.

The community responded so much that she created a “Community Resource Room” with donations of food, clothing, school supplies and shoes.

The population at Rankin is very diverse, and Black says she knows getting the parents involved in the school is integral to the school’s success. So during the school year, she organizes several “Dine and Learn” events that parents can attend.

“We’ve got Asian families, Vietnamese. We have Latino families. We have African families,” Black said. “We have interpreters here. We serve them their own food, and we give them information about Rankin and how they can have success here with their children.”

She has been at Rankin for four years and has seen a lot of growth, which she hopes will continue.

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