The Read Across America campaign hit home locally recently as volunteers helped provide a special day for students at the Shawnee Early Childhood Center.
The Junior Service League of Shawnee funded the event through a $1,900 grant, purchasing 600 books, or one for each student in the school, which houses the Shawnee Public Schools’ kindergarten classes, as well as 12 half-day pre-kindergarten classes. In addition to providing the books, volunteer readers also took time in the morning and the afternoon to read to students in each of the school’s classrooms.
The project was organized by the Shawnee Public Library and also included contributions from the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae club, which supplied event T-shirts, as well as volunteer readers from the Junior Service League, Shawnee High School Tri Hi Y organization, the Shawnee Public Library’s teen advisory board and the Pioneer Library System’s leadership class.
Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, also made a visit to be one of the guest readers, spending time reading to children in one of the school’s pre-kindergarten classrooms.
“It’s good to get out here and spend time around the kids,” said Hampton, a 34-year veteran teacher who is serving a three-year term as OEA President. “We like to get out and be with teachers and support professionals, we want to be out and know the challenges that they face, and help them do all they can for their students.”
Children in the school also were greeted by OEA’s Bruce Treadaway, who was more recognizable by his costume as the Cat in the Hat, as well as Jessica, the mascot for the Pioneer Library System.
National Read Across America Day is an initiative of the National Education Association to celebrate reading throughout the country and is commemorated on the birthday of the Cat in the Hat’s creator, Dr. Seuss, on Saturday, March 2. Communities throughout the country are participating in the early part of March in Read Across America programs like this one in Shawnee.
“It’s tremendous,” said the school’s principal, Jesse Hernandez. “Reading is such a vitally important part of what we do here every day.”
The program is one of many the Junior Service League helps to make happen through its funding and its volunteer time in Shawnee. The Junior Service League recently celebrated its 75th anniversary of aiding projects at organizations throughout the community, many of which have involved the library.
“We love the library and literacy in general,” said Katie Ford, Junior Service League of Shawnee President. “There are so many things that need to be done in our community, and we try to help with as much as we can.”
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