HistoryThe year 2000 was designated as The Year of the Child by the Presbyterian Church USA. Jeanne Isaacs, former Director of Children’s Education at Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) expressed interested in creating programming to celebrate and honor the Year of the Child. She wanted to establish programs on three levels: church, community, and international. Jeanne had long dreamed of creating programming for the children of the community so that they would have opportunities for after school activities. She noted that our children’s facilities at IPC were empty all week except for Wednesday evenings.
IPC member Caroline Polson, a teacher in the Birmingham City School System, told Jeanne that if she were going to do anything with these children it should be tutoring them in reading. She said that reading skills were the greatest weakness in the students she encountered in her teaching experience. Coincidentally a few weeks later Dr. Jim Carter, IPC pastor at that time, mentioned the STAIR reading program during a sermon. STAIR was founded in 1985 in New Orleans at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church. Dr. Carter had also been pastor at this church leading to his familiarity with the program. Caroline’s interest was piqued. On Monday morning she called the New Orleans STAIR program and the rest is history.
The New Orleans STAIR director was extremely helpful and encouraging. She sent curriculum and worked with Caroline on the phone. Jeanne and Caroline decided to pursue the program for IPC. STAIR of Birmingham began in the fall of 2000. There were 12 students and 24 tutors. The first two schools served were Avondale Elementary and Whatley Elementary. Willie Mae Butler joined the team.
Anna James, Executive Director
Board of DirectorsPresident Kennon Walthall--SVP, PRA Government Services
Vice President Gene Lewis--Retired from Royal Cup Coffee, STAIR Tutor--IPC & Lewis K-5 School
Secretary Chip Grizzle--Attorney w/ Brasfield & Gorrie, STAIR Tutor at IPC & Westminster Presbyterian
Treasurer Laura Clarke--Relationship Manager at BBVA Compass
Eva Carter Retired, Dean, Lawson State Community College, Presently - Marketing Director &
Financial Consultant for CEC Enterprises, INC.
Floresha Boyd Home Preservation Specialist, Wells Fargo, Home Mortgage Dept.
Susan Clayton Associate Pastor and Director of Community Ministries, Independent Presbyterian Church,
Melodie Echols Executive Director, Norwood Resource Center
Maura Goodwyn Volunteer Attorney, STAIR tutor-- IPC
Penney Hartline Community Volunteer
Jan Hughey Community Volunteer, STAIR Tutor--Oliver K-8 School
Lee E. Loder Retired/Community Organizer
Will Matthews Vice Chairman & CFO, National Bank of Commerce
Diana Plosser Retired Teacher, STAIR Tutor--Lewis K-5 School
Bryson Stephens General Manager of EBSCO Sign Group
Jeannette Watford STAIR Tutor Coordinator--Lewis K-5 School
Randall Woodfin City Attorney for the City of Birmingham, Member of the Birmingham Board of Education