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 Memorial Reading Garden Keeps Students Reading at Rio Seco School

​​The dream of a memorial reading garden at Rio Seco School began almost a year ago after the loss of a dear colleague and friend, Christine Bailey. In honor of Mrs. Bailey, the school’s faculty and staff wanted to remember her in a special way and thought a memorial bench would be a perfect way to do so and also provide students a comfortable place outdoors to sit and enjoy their favorite book. Staff knew that Mrs. Bailey had always instilled the importance of reading to her students and would appreciate them remembering her.

Shortly after their loss, Kelly Brown, a teacher at Rio Seco, lost her mother, Kathy Davis. Mrs. Davis was another very devoted teacher in the Santee School district for over thirty years. Not only was she an outstanding classroom teacher, but she served as a mentor to teachers and parents throughout the district. The Davis family wanted to honor Kathy at Rio Seco where her grandchildren would soon be attending. Added to their losses was the passing away of a very kind and gentle man, John Gathercole, a former outstanding Rio Seco Jr. High teacher. His passion for teaching and devotion to his students definitely made a difference, so the thought of honoring John as well was automatic.

The idea of just a bench had now grown into a beautiful outdoor garden where students were able to share every teacher’s love for reading in a lovely natural setting.

Thanks to the San Diego Council of Literacy Professionals the outdoor garden has been made possible due to th​eir significant financial support. With their support, this has ignited the idea for a reading garden.

In addition, Rio Seco School has informed the Santee community about the reading garden and have been overwhelmed with the generosity of our Rio Seco families, teachers, retired teachers, as well as numerous businesses in the community. From the gravel and rock, to the brick and block; from irrigation materials to the grass and plants; from the benches to the arbors; from the tiles to the plaques; even water, Gatorade, coffee, bagels, donuts, and lunches for our volunteers…ALL have been graciously donated to make this dream come true!

The financial support has exceeded well over $25,000 in materials donated to complete the garden! Thanks to the following generous supporters of the Rio Seco School garden:

  • The Home Depot Foundation (generous financial support and volunteers) 
  • San Diego Council of Literacy Professionals (generous financial support) 
  • Rio Seco Families 
  • Rio Seco Staff and retired teachers 
  • RCP – Gene Chubb 
  • Lakeside Land Co.- Jim Harris 
  • Santee Kiwanis Club 
  • Treebeard Landscape-Tim Hillman 
  • Rain Bird Corp. 
  • Alpine Block and Rock 
  • Hunter Industries 
  • Synthetic Lawn Supply 
  • El Cajon Name Plate 
  • San Diego Marble 
  • New Creation Flooring-Steve Steinmetz 
  • Todd Seaboch (concrete staining) 
  • Santee Fire Department 
  • Family of Christine Bailey 
  • Family of Kathy Davis 
  • Family of John Gathercole 
  • Starbucks 
  • Einstein Bagels 
  • Target 
  • WalMart 
  • Food 4 Less 
  • Costco 
  • Vons 
  • Mary’s Donuts 
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken 
  • Pizza Hut 
  • Del Taco