I spent Tuesday morning at Hutchinson Elementary School where the generous volunteers from FedEx and The Heart of America Foundation were building a reading corner filled with brand new books! It was exciting to see the FedEx volunteers putting the finishing touches on the reading corner, hosting story time in the classrooms. Hutchinson is the first school in APS to receive a READesign Reading Corner. Not only did volunteers stuff their media center with 250 additional library-quality books, but each student also received two new books to take home.
The folks over at The Heart of America Foundation and FedEx were great students and they did their homework on Hutchinson. When they found out the school served more than 20% of English Language Learner students, they made sure the donation contained books written in both Spanish and English! Research shows that one positive experience with reading can turn a child into a good reader. If compelling, comprehensible material is available, even the most reluctant reader can develop literacy skills for a lifetime.
Students at Hutchinson were reminded that reading makes them smart, builds their vocabulary and spelling and it connects everything – from math and social studies to science and art – reading helps kids understand all of their subjects better. Literacy is the cornerstone of learning and everyone has a role to play.
It was important to me to remind the students that Principal Shaunta Broadway and Media Specialist Ms. Shirley Miller aren’t the only ones in charge of reading at Hutchinson. In fact the principal and media specialist are only a small part of the reading puzzle at all of our schools. Parents, teachers and counselors as well as bus drivers, cafeteria staff and community partners need to ask kids, “What are you reading today?” We can all work together to encourage students to read and provide them with opportunities for sustained, silent reading in all subjects on topics that interest them. That way, we can lead our students to deeper thinking, which results in higher achievement.
A special thank you to John Flynn, Vice President of Reading Design at The Heart of America Foundation, Board of Education member Eshe’ Collins and Instructional Technology Coordinator Warren Goetzel for joining us during the celebration. Thanks again to our partners for their generosity!