The Franklin County Schools’ youngest students celebrated the wonderfulness of reading last week by coming in out of the rain.
The annual Literacy on the Lawn event was moved inside Thursday morning, March 24 due to the soggy weather, creating a perfect opportunity for 11 classes – of Kindergartners, first and second graders – to curl up in chairs or on a rug and listen to community volunteers and educators read a book to them.
It made perfect sense for new sheriff’s deputy Mikel Register to read “Meet the Policeman” and Times newspaper editor David Adlerstein to read “The Paperboy.”
In keeping with her golden years, JoAnn Gander, the former Franklin County superintendent, offered up “Grandfather Twilight.” Jennifer Leach, district director of curriculum and instruction, shared “Just Grandma and Me.”
Focusing on the season at hand, retired educator Missy Cumbie read “When Will It Be Spring?” and assistant principal Jaime Copley read “The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring.” Assistant principal Karen Ward read “Chicken Big.”
Retired reading specialist Harolyn Walker offered “Tell Me A Story Mama,” while Carrabelle pastor Torey Blackman read “Five Little Monkeys.” Principal Laurence Pender offered up the Dr. Seuss’ classic “Green Eggs and Ham,” and literacy coach Donna Barber, who oversaw the event, read “There’s An Alligator Under My Bed.”
This was one of several events to foster community engagement, including Literacy Night in early March, which featured stations where attendees could do things like create poetry or create bookmarks, and kids came home with books.
Members of the junior class take part in Reading Buddies, in conjunction with Bring Me A Book – Franklin, where they are paired Tuesday afternoons with first-graders to work at imparting a greater comfort level with reading.
Literacy on the Lawn has long been a fixture at the school, and when the weather is good, kids can bring towels and blankets and be read to on the lawn in the center of the campus.
This year, Barber said, the event focused on the youngest children, at ages when they are fully mastering sounds and phonics and then moving into enjoying the delights of reading by themselves, and understanding the differences between fiction and non-fiction, and other genres.
“It’s a foundational time,” Barber said. “Here we don’t have the level of parental involvement we wish we had.”
But, she stressed, there are lots parents can do to ensure the current rebound from the COVID crisis is a strong one for their child’s literacy skills.
“The most important thing they can do is be aware of what’s happening in the classroom,” she said. “Every day, know their homework, know the skills they are working on.”
Parents can go to the school’s Focus portal, and see in real time the grades for their child. “You can check any day and see what’s been entered,” Barber said.
There’s also the Remind account, where teachers send out mass information, or use it as a private mobile messaging platform with parents.
“Every teachers’ email is available on the district website, or you can call and make an appointment,” Barber said. “The most important thing is to be aware and be engaged, and the most important way is to model it.”
Parents can share articles they found online, or in newspapers or magazines or books with their child, Barber said, noting electronic devices have a lot of valuable reading programs, as well as a system of parental controls.
“You should balance the electronic things with books in their hands,” she said. “It really increases their chance of success.”