Celebrity Reader Day at Griffith Elementary
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
MARCH 13, 2019 – Each year, Kaeli Stafford invites people from throughout the community to Celebrity Reader Day at Griffith Elementary.
Stafford, who is the media coordinator, recruits enough readers so that someone goes into every classroom in the school to read.
The readers who came to the school on Tuesday included people from First Bank, Winston-Salem State University, Bookmarks, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and the school system’s Central Office.
Gray Barbour, who is a senior vice president for First Bank, was there to read to a class of third-graders.
“I think it’s a great way to connect with our community and to help our community,” Barbour said.
His goal for the day was to make teachers feel supported and to give students a fun experience.
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman was one of the books he was going to read to students. On his own, Barbour likes to read historical fiction. Lately, he has been reading books connected to World War II.
His colleague, Rebecca Newman, who is the assistant branch manager at a First Bank branch near Griffith, regularly comes over to the school to volunteer.
She is a huge Dr. Seuss fan.
“I love things that rhyme – that excites me,” Newman said. “He’s fun.”
For Celebrity Reader Day, she had bought a hat like the one the Cat in the Hat wears, along with a Cat in the Hat scarf and a Cat in the Hat hand puppet.
Later, when Rebecca Newman arrived in Jessica Teague’s first grade class, she invited student Mi’uanni Fair to help out by being in charge of the Cat in the Hat puppet.
The first Dr. Seuss book she read to first-graders was Green Eggs & Ham.
Jennifer Cobb is the director of education & business volunteer services for the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
“I believe in reading,” she said when asked why she had come.
She brought one of her favorite books from childhood – Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. She has read it many, many times. The book is included in the chamber's Corporate Volunteers program, and, these days, she keeps a copy in her office.
Antonio McCoy, who is a leadership coach with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, saw the day as an opportunity to make a positive impact on some young people.
While he waited for the student who would escort him to class, he sat in an easy chair with the book he was going to read – What Do You Do with a Problem?
The escorts included Randy Valverde, the third-grader who serves as student council president. One of the readers he escorted was George Knox, the interim director of athletics at Winston-Salem State.
Knox was taking the book A Bike Like Sergio’s to Deon Adams’ fourth-grade class.
“I’m here because I think it’s important to read,” Knox said. “This is to show the importance of reading.”
On his own time, he enjoys reading poems by such poets at Langston Hughes and reading about history and sports.
After the readers were done, they were invited to return to the media center where they could enjoy cake and fresh fruit provided by Lowes Foods, one of the school’s business partners.
James Dubois – who, along with being the associate athletic director for external affairs at Winston-Salem State, is a minister at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church – said he had enjoyed the opportunity to interact with kindergarten students and to answer their questions.
“It was a great experience,” Dubois said.
His son, Jameson, is a first-grader at Cash Elementary. Asked what Jameson enjoys reading, Dubois said, “Everything.”
They have a bookcase filled with books plus a stack of books on the floor. So they have plenty to choose from.
Marisela Krugman, who is a personal banker with First Bank, thoroughly enjoyed the time she spent with her first-graders.
“They were so attentive,” she said. “It was so much fun. I will definitely be doing it again.”
One of the books she read was Splat the Cat.
The day also offered her the opporunity to expand some students’ understanding of banks. When first-graders found out that she works for a bank, one offered the opinion – “that’s where rich people keep all their money.” She was able to explain that banks are far more than that.
Krugman’s husband, Lloyd Krugman is a Technical Sergeant with the U.S. Air Force. He serves as a recruiter, and they moved here when he was transferred to the recruiting office on Silas Creek Parkway. Since they arrived from Mississippi last summer, they have been working to connect to people in the community and to get to know the area.
Earlier, as Stafford waited in the media center for guests to arrive, she was getting help from both students and adults.
Debra Burdette’s son, Edward, is in the pre-kindergarten program, and she likes to come in and work as a volunteer in the school. She’s a huge help, Stafford said.
Along with Dr. Seuss books, Burdette especially enjoys reading books in the Peppa Pig and the PAW Patrol series to Edward.
One of the students was second-grader Neveah Thompson.
When it comes to a reading on her own, Neveah said, “I like to read quietly and look at the pictures.”
One of her favorite books is Evelyn the Mermicorn Fairy – one of the books in the Rainbow Magic series. She likes it so much that she has read it three times.
Second-grader Destiny Pleasant likes the way that the words and pictures work together to tell the story. Sometimes, when she looks at a picture, she gets a sense of where the book is going. She likes mysteries. One of her favorites is Cam Jansen and the Snowy Day Mystery.