First lady shares passion
Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 9:02 pm
Special Features Editor
Crissy Haslam, wife of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and mother of three who earned her master’s degree in education, is passionate about getting parents involved in the education of their children and encouraging families to read.
The nationwide Read 20 initiative is receiving a major boost from Mrs. Haslam as she travels across Tennessee, talking to educators and others involved in helping children explore their world and forming alliances to increase the state’s literacy rate.
As part of her tour across the Volunteer State, she visited second-graders at Union City Elementary School Monday afternoon. She reminded students that reading is “good exercise for the brain” and urged them to spend their summer vacation — which begins Wednesday — reading each day. To start them off right, Mrs. Haslam read excerpts from two books that delighted the students and left many of them eager to find out what happens next by reading the books themselves. She also brought along free books to distribute to the children.
Mrs. Haslam has signed on to work with the Tennessee Department of Education Early Grades Reading Delivery plan, whose goal is to have at least 60 percent of all Tennessee third-graders reading at a proficient level or above by 2014. As part of that plan, she is not only reading to second-graders at 10 schools across the state but is also touring their schools and establishing relationships with educators and others committed to literacy leaps for Tennessee.
At UCES, Mrs. Haslam spoke to school administrators, members of the Union City School Board, early childhood educators from the Promethean Foundation, librarians from the school and the Obion County Public Library, representatives of the Reading Railroad Initiative and representatives of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee.
She also toured the school and listened to those involved in promoting strong reading programs for the area’s children describe their efforts and their plans for the future.
Mrs. Haslam said her visit would be the first of several she plans over this year and she would be returning to UCES and the other schools where she has been assessing strengths and learning about successful initiatives.
“A lot of children don’t read in the summer and they fall behind,” she noted, adding that if parents would commit to reading to or with their children for just 20 minutes a day throughout the summer, the benefits would be evident when the children return to school.
Those spending time with Mrs. Haslam discussing the local efforts were able to point to a variety of school and community efforts and innovative programs that promote literacy and that benefit from interconnected support.
These include partnerships between the local Boys & Girls Clubs and both the school and the public library, efforts by Promethean Foundation to make sure parents using their pre-school program have their children enrolled in the Reading Railroad program that provides 12 free high-quality and specially-selected books each year for children from birth to their fifth birthday and mentoring efforts for high risk students in the Union City School System.
Published in The Messenger 5.24.11