Susan Koster '60 reading to children
December 05, 2022

Reading in paradise

Abbot alumna finds new work in retirement
by Allyson Irish

Bright blue water. Warm breezes. Colorful cocktails. And a reading program? That’s not exactly what Susan Lothrop Koster ’60 had in mind when she retired to the Bahamas in 2004. But after her husband passed away, she knew she wanted to pursue something worthwhile.

Today, Koster is director of the C.R.A.B. (Caught Reading a Book) book club program. The position finds Koster busy at least five days a week helping to foster a love of reading and building community for primary school students. Koster and her team of approximately 30 volunteers host weekly book chats, fund reading assessments, provide one-on-one reading tutors, and oversee the new children’s library.

Why did you move to the Bahamas?

My husband and I moved to the Bahamas after we had sold our business in Jupiter, Florida, and retired in 2003. Long Island, Bahamas, was just like the Jupiter we moved to in 1968: slow, easy, peaceful. Everyone knew and cared about each other.

How did your literacy program CRAB come about?

My husband died in 2005 and in his memory, my daughters and I began various literacy projects on Long Island. Caught Reading a Book was “born” in 2017, the brainchild of my eldest daughter, Tanja. Since that time, I, and a team of amazing volunteers, have “raised” CRAB to what it is today.

What is the purpose of the CRAB program?

Reading is important to me; I have personally watched the struggles and humiliation of illiteracy. Although I am the director, we have a dynamic steering committee of four. I organize the book chats, volunteers, and weekly prizes for reading. I provide all the publicity and handle all the finances and I organize all the reading assessments and training. I help out at the library weekly and even do data entry! I drive up and down our island often, promoting the program at school assemblies, delivering books and prizes, etc. I guess you could say I am a very hands-on director! I’m proud of the work we have done.

What were you like as an Abbot student? Did you love reading then?

I was a bit of a rebellious Abbot day student. I have always loved reading and learning. Abbot created a wonderful platform for literary discussion.

Is there anything you learned from your days at Abbot Academy that you have carried with you as an adult?

I have carried excellent education with me since my Abbot days, appreciating it more and more with each year. Most importantly, I have carried with me the lessons of Latin, French, and English grammar, and composition skills.

Who was your favorite teacher at Abbot and why?

The teacher who had the greatest impact on me was Mlle. Arosa and the way she taught French. Her principles have guided me as I have learned many other languages over the years.

What was your favorite location on the Abbot campus and why?

My favorite location on the Abbot Campus was the dining room! As a day student, I only experienced lunches and Tiffin, but the manners I learned have stood by me forever. The food was delicious, especially the puddings!

If you had an entire day all to yourself, what would you do?

I am fortunate to have the gift of each day in front of me each morning. I am thankful for the time to give the best I can to CRAB (sometimes more than a full work week!). We live on a beautiful, warm island and balance our time with an enjoyment of our waters and beaches, my love for cooking and photography, and, yes, reading!

This past June, His Excellency The Honorable Sir C.A. Smith, The Governor-General of the Bahamas, visited with Koster and children at The Little Cottage Library to honor the work done through CRAB. (Top photo: Submitted, Bottom Photo: Bruno Dittmar)
Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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