Rock Hill sisters share love of elementary school
Three Rock Hill sisters have a lot in common, including their love for Ebinport Elementary School.
That’s where the sisters attended elementary school. It’s also where their children went. And it’s where the sisters currently work.
“Ebinport just has such a special place in our heart,” said Kristi McGuirt, who teaches second grade. “It’s been home when I was a child and it’s home now as an adult. To be back at the school that I grew up attending as a child was so special to me.”
McGuirt, 48, and her sisters, Rhonda Cranford, 53, and Sheri Bruce, 46, all are married. Bruce is a first-grade teacher, and Cranford is the school nurse.
Cranford and Bruce joined Ebinport at after McGuirt.
“I think they heard from me what a great place Ebinport still was,” McGuirt said. “Ebinport is dear to all three of us.”
Cranford said the sisters don’t always see each other during the school day but know they can call on each other when needed.
“We are just best friends,” she said. “We can relate when there is a problem because we all are going through the same thing together. Even though I am in the health room and they are in the classroom, we are still experiencing the same problems with the children.”
McGuirt said her sisters are a support system, something she said has found with all Ebinport teachers and staff.
“It’s a neat feeling to know if I had a rough day, that at the end of the day, I have somewhere I can just go and let it out,” McGuirt said. “It’s always been a family school. It was a family school when I came here as a child and we are still a family here.”
McGuirt and Bruce started elementary school at Ebinport. Cranford started at Ebinport in the fourth grade when the school still went to sixth grade.
Cranford said the school was a different place then. She said it relied on large fans rather than air conditioning and had hand-cranked windows. It wasn’t surrounded by neighborhoods and stores like today.
“This was really the country at that point in time,” Cranford said. “I can still recall some things going down the halls, seeing things how they have changed.”
The student population looks different, too, Cranford said.
“When I came to Ebinport there was not much integration within the schools. It had started but not to where it is now,” she said. “It’s a good thing because we can see the different cultures blend together and children get to see that not everyone lives like they do.”
Ebinport used to house one of the Rock Hill school district’s language immersion programs. The newly opened Cherry Park Elementary School of Language Immersion consolidated the Spanish and French immersion programs under one roof.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the family atmosphere, Cranford said. That’s what encouraged Bruce to join her sisters working there.
“I heard all the wonderful things and I was pleased as a parent with what I was seeing going on with my child,” Bruce said.
All of the sisters’ children attended Ebinport.
Bruce’s son, Wells, is now a freshman at Winthrop University and her daughter, Clara, is a freshman at South Pointe High School.
Wells and Bruce had the same fourth-grade teacher at Ebinport, Jo Humphries, Bruce said. Bruce had Humphries when she started her career and Wells had her during Humphries’ last year of teaching.
“It was so wonderful to be a part of where my child was at school,” Bruce said.
McGuirt’s son, Whit, is now a senior at The Citadel in Charleston and her daughter, Sally, is a senior at South Pointe High School. Cranford’s daughter, Kirby, is a physician assistant and her son, Michael, is now in graduate school at College of Charleston.
The sisters also love Clemson.
Cranford graduated from Clemson and has been a pediatric nurse for 29 years. She worked for the York County Health Department for 15 years. She has been at Ebinport 13 years.
Cranford also has worked in a pediatrician’s office and a neonatal intensive care unit.
“I just love working with children; that’s my passion,” she said.
McGuirt completed undergrad at Clemson and earned her master’s at Winthrop. She has taught for 26 years, 19 at Ebinport.
Bruce started Clemson two years after McGuirt for her undergrad and also earned her master’s at Winthrop. Bruce is in her 24th year teaching, 11 at Ebinport, she said.
“Ebinport is our mission field,” Cranford said. “We weren’t called overseas to be missionaries, but this is our mission field. We were brought up with a strong faith and we feel that God has given us a lot and therefore we should give back. Our heart is for these children. We love them, we want to encourage them and we just want them to know we are here for them.”