Valdosta Daily Times

April 25, 2013

Georgia’s first lady reads for the future

Mrs. Deal visits South Georgia schools

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Reading prose and poetry to kindergarten and pre-kindergarten children at J. L. Lomax Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal said she hoped the encounter would encourage the kids to continue reading and that Read Across Georgia’s efforts will be a boon for literacy in our state.

Mrs. Deal also visited Quitman Elementary School Wednesday. She is scheduled today to visit Berrien Primary School and Echols County Elementary School as part of her statewide reading tour.

In Valdosta, after reading “Learning to Read,” a poem drafted by her husband, Gov. Nathan Deal, the first lady praised the values of self worth and confidence as she read “Who I’d Like to Be” by Georgia native Elizabeth Brown.

Just as the story’s protagonist decides he’d rather be himself than one of a host of amazing animals and people in the book, Mrs. Deal said she hopes these reading events will both grow an educated workforce and prevent our brightest young minds from taking their talents elsewhere.

Mrs. Deal and company also wanted to remind South Georgia youth that state legislators are aware there are readers in school systems outside of the metro area, and that they are committed to raising literacy percentages throughout the state, she said.

“Right now, we’re focused on third graders and below, because students mainly read for content beyond the middle grades,” said Mrs. Deal. “Reading initiatives like Read Across Georgia lay a foundation for academic success at the high school and college levels and they help promote an educated workforce. We want to grow an educated and literate workforce, so that our citizens aren’t limited to entry-level jobs after high school. We don’t want to have to find educated people from other states to fill our best jobs.”

The initiative focuses on readers below the fourth grade, said Mrs. Deal, who works with all grades and would like to expand the program to work with more advanced readers in the future.

Mrs. Deal’s statewide reading tour started April 22 and will end April 29. The first lady has been reading at school districts inside counties including Crawford, Peach, Macon, Pulaski, Bleckley, Crisp, Sumter, Webster, Randolph, Calhoun, Baker, Grady, Thomas (three schools), Lowndes (two schools), Echols, Berrien, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Telfair, Wheeler, Montgomery, Appling, Charlton, Brantley, Wayne, and Bacon.

The Read Across Georgia initiative was sponsored by Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, a state-run authority on early education and child-care service.

More information: Visit DECAL.Ga.Gov