Belk uses prom money to give students graduation gift

MATTHEWS, N.C. — It’s easy to see why Kim Tuttle is Charlotte Mecklenburg School’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. She had kind words for every graduate at Levine Middle High School.

“Your speech was phenomenal, phenomenal so I’m very, very proud of you,” said Tuttle when speaking with a graduate through their car window.

Tuttle was also giving her former students social distancing hugs at the drive-by graduation.

In January, Tuttle wanted to use her teacher of the year money to help pay for prom dresses for students. The year before, only about half could afford to go. Belk found out about Tuttle’s effort.

In a surprise assembly, the company announced they’d pay for the entire prom. However, things changed with COVID-19. Instead of paying for prom, each graduate got a Belk goodie bag with a $200 gift card.

One graduate said it means a lot, “Probably going to get some college clothes, stuff like that, definitely.”

Sonmi Davis said the money will help her daughter, Gina, get ready for college. “Her bedding, some clothes, you know necessary stuff,” Davis said.

Walter Crowley said he’s using some of the money to buy a suit for High Point University.

“If I don’t spend it all, I’ll probably get something for my mom or my sister. They like to shop there,” Crowley said.

This gift means the world to Tuttle, knowing that she helped make a difference.

“This has been a blessing. This is where you see a community truly coming together as one," Tuttle said.

Levine Middle High School gives students the opportunity to get ahead in college. Out of the 80 students that graduated, about half finished with a 2-year associate’s degree. That means they can go straight into the workforce, or start college as a junior.