Company Background of Cupp Publishers, Inc.
Cindy Cupp's Resume
Savannah Morning News - 12/3/2003
For these sisters, life begins with ABCs
by columnist Jane Fishman
Morning News In Town Close Up
February 26, 2003
Talking to Cindy Cupp is like talking to a Georgia tornado. She’s fast, and she’s off to another part of the state before you know what hit you. This day she was talking via cell phone from somewhere along I-16. Prompting her to leave Atlanta after 30 years working for state government and move back home to Savannah was something more ominous than a tornado, said the Class of ’67 Savannah High graduate.
Hurricane Floyd threatened the area, Cupp was unable to find her father,
Walter Cupp, now 90, lost during the massive evacuation. Though he was found,
safe and sound, Cupp said she didn’t want that to happen again. So she retired
from her job as the Georgia Department of Education’s reading and curriculum
director to pursue her passion: teaching children how to read.
She said she had no idea three years ago how she could parlay that passion into a living.
”It came to me one day while I was teaching a staff development class for kindergarten teachers in Chatham County,” said Cupp, who was at that time working as a consultant in the local schools. “There’s a list of certain words — called sight words — that children must learn in school. But I realized very few books have been printed using those specific words.”
Cupp decided to begin writing her own books and use them in conjunction with her own series of phonics books as a teaching method, now known as the Dr. Cupp Readers® Program. She describes the books as an up-to-date “Sally, Dick and Jane” series, familiar to many baby boomers.
In 2001 her business made no money. Last year it grossed $750,000. Around 25,000 students in 100 Georgia school systems are now using the program, Cupp said. Success has come thanks to word-of-mouth and a Web site, www.cindycupp.com, she said.
Depot, a Southside office supply store, made copies of Cupp’s first batch of
books. ”Funds were tight at first. I had no budget. I had $400 to print up my
books. I told the teachers who were interested in them just to come out to
Office Depot and pick them up. Eventually so many teachers were lining up that
Office Depot gave me an office in one of the cubicles they have on their
display floor,” Cupp said, laughing.
From there, things seemed to fall magically into place, Cupp said. Her sister, Ginger Douglass, who spent 31 years teaching in Savannah-Chatham County public schools, is now Cupp’s bookkeeper. A student at Savannah-College of Art and Design, Elvin Hernandaz, draws many of the characters for Cupp’s books. And, having outgrown Office Depot’s services, Cupp now has Kennickell Print and Communications, a Savannah printer, handle production.
Cupp said she is proud her business is entirely a Savannah operation. And while she said she is looking more and more like the big guys, she is not ready to grow out of her office in her father’s south side house or beyond state lines.
”We have kids all over Georgia who can’t read ... I don’t know if I want (the program) to go all over the country. My goal has never been to make money, it’s been to teach kids to read,” Cupps said. “Personally, I’ve never met a child I can’t teach to read. I have a passion for that.”
Robert Branch’s School Rulz appears weekly in the Closeup. He welcomes news items about local schools. Call him at 355-5469; e-mail items to firstname.lastname@example.org; fax items to 234-6522; or mail items to Closeups, P.O. Box 1088, Savannah, GA 31402.