MADISON — When Coach Shane Griffith took the head coaching job at Scott High many years ago, his wife Jennifer started up the “Skyhawk Read Aloud” with the local elementary schools.
“The football players would go out on Fridays to the schools, wear their jerseys, read to classrooms and donate a book to their school,” Jennifer Griffith said. “The kids loved for the players to come read and it was a great source to express to kids how important reading is.”
Griffith said many donations of books came from the community for this event.
“I appreciate all that welcomed our Read Aloud into their schools,” she said.
Back in June, she came in contact with Mary Kay Bond, who is the Executive Director of Read Aloud WV and wanted to expand the Read Aloud from not just the feeder schools into Scott High School, but to include all elementary schools in Boone County.
“We are delighted that Jennifer wants to create a chapter with our state association,” Bond said. “This will enable us to have a formal structure and create growth in the program. We think an official program in Boone County will really help more children fall in love with reading. This will have significant implications for education in Boone County. We need the entire community to work together to bring up reading scores in the county, and this is a wonderful example of one way to help accomplish those goals.”
Griffith said she also made contact with Boone County School Superintendent John Hudson to set up a meeting to discuss taking this further and bringing Read Aloud WV to Boone County.
“The meeting was positive and very receptive,” she said. “I appreciate Mr. Hudson allowing me to take this task on to engage the students, teachers and community volunteers here in our county.”
Griffith said that she and Bond will be presenting to the principals at their meeting on Friday, Aug. 8th, to educate more about Read Aloud WV and what great opportunities and learning we can bring to our county.
“I will serve as the Chairman for the county and will have meetings within and with the Read Aloud WV staff,” she said. “My goal is to involve all elementary schools in Boone County, along with coordinators from each school, and the help of our community as serving as Read Aloud Readers. I’m excited to kick this off.”
As a kick-off and “let’s find out more campaign,” Griffith said she plans to set up a table with information at the Boone County Grid-O-Rama on Aug. 22, where many of the local schools will be represented and community leaders will be in attendance.
“I look forward to the involvement and the positive outcome of Read Aloud Boone County,” she said.
The mission of “Read Aloud West Virginia” is simple in focus, but essential to the education and economic well-being of West Virginia’s citizens, according to statistics.
A 2013 report from the Annie E. Casey National Kids County Data Center, 73 percent of West Virginia’s 4th graders are not proficient in reading.
Read Aloud’s mission is to motivate children to want to read.
“Motivation is the critical first step in developing any skill,” its mission statement says. “Read Aloud’s programs are designed to meet the needs of students at various ages and with different interests.”
(Fred Pace is the Editor for the Coal Valley News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-369-1165, or on Twitter @fcpace62)