A Holiday Reading Extravaganza at Easton
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
DECEMBER 20, 2018 – When Martha Eller goes to an elementary school to read with students, she brings one of her therapy dogs with her. For the Multicultural Holiday Read-In at Easton Elementary on Wednesday, she also brought a holiday book that stars a dog.
While her real dog Truffles took a moment to check out Savanna Patterson’s second-grade classroom, Eller started reading Olive, the Other Reindeer to the students.
Before long, second-grader Zamari Woods offered to help read. That was fine with Eller, and Zamari helped her read the rest of the book to the class.
Exploring done, Truffles began visiting with the students.
When it came time to read the second book – Santa Bruce, which is about a cranky bear who animals start treating as if he were Santa Claus – more of the students joined Eller in reading the book aloud.
After they finished, Eller said, “You are all great readers. Thank you for letting us come.”
Eller and Truffles’ visit to Patterson’s classroom was one of many on Wednesday. About 100 people participated in Easton’s first-ever Multicultural Holiday Read-In. Some readers visited several classrooms. So, before the day was done, every class – from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade – had had multiple readers.
The event was organized by Lori Hartman, the school’s Reading Coach and Instructional Facilitator for kindergarten through second grade.
“This is a great time to get every child excited about reading,” Hartman said.
Readers included volunteers from the community, police officers, firefighters, a judge, the new sheriff, members of the school board, the superintendent, people based in the school system’s Central Office, and a man with disabilities who read with an electronic device similar to one physicist Stephen Hawking used.
Principal Colin Tribby was dressed in festive holiday attire, and he zipped around the school visiting with readers.
One of the readers in Adia Redfearn’s second-grade class was Corporal Savannah Boyd of the Winston-Salem Police Department. She is a supervisor with the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, and Easton is one of her schools.
As students waited for her to arrive, Dania Cruz said, “I feel excited. The book is going to be amazing.”
Dania likes to read.
“I like all the books,” she said.
Dania especially likes books that teach her something or that are funny.
Elizabeth Ramirez’s favorite holiday book is Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer.
“It’s funny,” she said.
Aileen Aldarran doesn’t have a favorite holiday book. She does have a favorite regular book, though – My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life. It, too, is funny.
Nyhiem Lomax wants to be a police officer when he grows up. So he was excited about having a police officer come to read. When Boyd arrived, she was happy to have her picture taken with Nyhiem before sitting down and reading Love – a picture book about some of the ways that love manifests in the world – to the students.
After Boyd was done reading, she talked with the students a bit about love.
“The strongest thing in the world is love,” said Kayden Clark.
Kayden added that, when he heard a police officer was coming, he thought the officer was going to be a man.
That happens, Boyd said. Now he knows women are police officers, too.
In Suvelyn Salmon Andress’ first-grade classroom, Bob Buwalda, an Assistant Fire Marshal with the Forsyth County Fire Department, was reading to students.
His book was called Froggy’s Best Christmas, in which a beaver helps Froggy get into the holiday spirit. As he read, Buwalda would stop along the way to ask students questions and comment on the action.
When it was time to leave, Buwalda said he was happy to have “a chance to come out and be with the kids.”
In between sessions, you would come upon readers being escorted to a classroom by student ambassadors. Student ambassador, Juan Orbe-Garcia, who is in the fourth grade, was escorting Jackie Pierson, the school system's Director of Library Media Services.
Pierson was going to read Bear Stays Up for Christmas and had brought along a stuffed bear for students to visit with.
Bear, of course.
David Sisk, the school system’s Director of Title III / LEP Programs, had two student ambassadors escorting him.
The readers included everyone in the school system’s Early Learning program. One of them was Kristen Turner. She stopped on her way to a classroom to talk about what a wonderful job Hartman had done in organizing the event.
One of the readers later in the day was Bryan Dooley, a man with disabilities who serves as an advocate for people with disabilities. Because of how cerebral palsy has affected his tongue, some people have difficulty understanding Dooley when he talks. Dave Owen, who serves as Dooley’s assistant, helps as needed.
When Dooley read a book called Esperanza Rising to students, he used an electronic device similar to one physicist Stephen Hawking would use.
It was a great day, Redfearn said, giving the students a chance to bond with people in the community.