Principal Jason McAllister says students at Southside Elementary School love having guest readers in their classrooms. These young readers get to see adults - who they may know as their principal or the local police chief - participating in an activity that's important to their everyday lives. "When they see these people come in (their classrooms) and they're reading, it just continues to make that connection for them," explains Woodford County schools Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm. "This is something everyone does. Everyone reads." Guest readers shared Dr. Seuss and other children's stories with Southside students to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Read Across America Day on Thursday morning, March 2. The Rev. Floyd Greene, longtime pastor at First Baptist Church in Versailles, read Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? because he knew the Dr. Seuss story would hold the attention of kindergartners. "They got to make the sounds that Mr. Brown made," he explains. McAllister chose to read The Big Honey Hunt by Stan and Jan Berenstain because a lot of students haven't heard the story before. "It's always a good read. It's got a really funny ending," he says. Brehm chose If I Ran the Zoo, a book he also reads aloud to his two-year-old daughter, because the Dr. Seuss story encourages young children to use their imaginations. "Once (I was) done reading it, I was able to ask the kids, 'Think of an (imaginary) animal if you were to start a zoo,'" he says. Retired Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Tony Wilhoit, also a former teacher, says he wanted to participate in Read Across America Day because he saw it as an opportunity to "help with the education of these kids in some way - even a tiny way." Reading a story to kindergartners on Read Across America Day energized Brehm, and helped remind him of why he comes to work every day. "You remember, we're doing (our jobs at Central Office) for this," he says. "...We can propel off this (energy) for another three weeks." Brehm says being in a classroom for Read Across America Day also reminds Central Office administrators of the long hours that hard-working teachers give to students every day. Since retiring as a teacher 12 years ago, Peggy Carter Seal has been inviting more and more guest readers to Southside Elementary for Read Across America Day. And they've been "so gracious" in accepting her invitation to make a difference in the lives of students because "reading is a lifelong skill," she says. "With children, it's so important that they understand how important it is (for them) to learn how to read, and to do it. Practice it," explains Seal. The National Education Association started Read Across America Day 20 years ago. The one-day celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday has grown into a year-round literacy campaign in communities and schools across the country.
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