By Rose Klein
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The First Lady of Florida, Ann Scott, visited Pinetta Elementary School Monday, May 12, as part of the Florida Department of Education’s Just Read, Florida! reading program. Mrs. Scott is well known for her advocacy of literature and encouraging children to read, especially during the summer months when school is out and in 2012 she partnered with the Just Read Florida! Summer Literacy Adventure that challenged students to read and participate in a contest of sorts between schools.
Studies have consistently shown that students who read throughout the year are able to retain their knowledge and continue to learn. Mrs. Scott knows this first hand and has said, as a child, she waited for school to be over so that she could spend her summers at the library. Literacy experts and educators agree, children of all ages need to be read to and need to talk about the books they have read. Reading over the summer helps students maintain reading skills, improve reading fluency and provides opportunity to learn new vocabulary and concepts.
During her visit to Pinetta, the First Lady visited two classrooms, Missy Cherry’s third grade and Gail Washington’s first grade. While in the classrooms, she read to students, making it a point to discuss the books while reading and afterwards, allowed the students to ask questions of a more personal nature. She talked openly to them about her life as First Lady and even showed pictures of her family, including grandkids and her yellow Lab Tally. After students asked her a myriad of questions about herself, what her favorite color was (green) and some of her favorite things to do (taking long walks), the First Lady turned the tables on students and asked them some of the things they liked to do when not in school. This proved to be the funniest part of the question and answer session in Mrs. Washington’s classroom as the first graders caught her off guard with answers of, “be lazy” and “I like to chase our goats around and push my brother down in goat poop.” After calm was restored, Mrs. Scott’s time at the school was over and she walked down the corridors, where students lined the halls, reaching their hands out to give the First Lady “high fives.” As she left, the First Lady of Florida reminded them how important it was to continue their reading throughout the summer break.
For school-aged children, Kindergarten through 12th grade, Florida’s Department of Education has a suggested summer reading list. You can find the list at www.justreadfamilies.org/SummerReading List.pdf. To find out more about the statewide reading initiative go to www.justreadflorida.com. To find out more about First Lady Ann Scott, visit www.flgov.com/follow-ann-scott.