Valdosta Daily Times

April 24, 2013

Welcome, First Lady Deal

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal is living up to the name of her Read Across Georgia Initiative. Today, she is scheduled to visit Valdosta and Brooks County schools. On Thursday, she is scheduled to visit Berrien and Echols County schools.

Deal will read to students. Her selections will include the poem “Learning to Read” and the book “Who I’d Like to Be.” She will also take questions from the students and have her photo taken with the area youngsters.

Mrs. Deal launched the Read Across Georgia initiative in response to her husband Gov. Nathan Deal’s push to increase the percentage of children reading at grade level by the end of third grade. She is making an effort to visit every Georgia school system within a three-year period.

The first lady began her statewide visits in March 2012. Then, she said, “Parental activities as simple as reading stories aloud to young children can greatly improve and enhance our students’ reading and literacy skills. Georgia children are a precious resource and undoubtedly capable of being the future leaders of our state. We, as parents, teachers and mentors, must take it upon ourselves to ensure that our students are good readers.”

Last year, the governor said in his State of the State address that children who are unable to read by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school, go to prison and have higher unemployment rates later in life.

“We must make a concerted effort to increase the percentage of children reading well and independently at grade-level,” said Mrs. Deal. “By focusing our efforts on our youngest learners, we have the ability to teach them crucial skills that lay the ground work for all their future academic and career endeavors.”

We welcome Mrs. Deal to South Georgia and we support her efforts to ensure all children can read at grade level by the end of third grade.