Photo Gallery | Local Leaders Read to over 1900 Students
The Fifth Annual Together We Can Read initiative, a partnership between the City of Columbia and Richland One School District that focuses on building an interest in reading in young children, was held today at 28 elementary schools across Richland One School District. “Together We Can Read brings together government, business and neighborhood leaders from across Columbia to read to young students,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “That speaks volumes about our community’s commitment to education, to our children and to our future as a truly world-class city.”
Since 2009, Together We Can Read has brought over 400 community and business leaders into the classrooms of elementary schools in Richland One, with this year alone bringing in 93 readers. The City of Columbia and Richland One Schools have partnered with the Richland Library for Together We Can Read for the second year in a row and are very appreciative of the work that the Richland Library has contributed.
This program is spearheaded by Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, who became motivated to share her experiences after reading to a classroom of students with a group of other local leaders. “Together We Can Read is focused on sharing the joy of reading with our local students, while also encouraging leaders to volunteer at local schools,” says Devine.
Although her intentions were originally to share her personal experiences, Councilwoman Devine has started something essential and inspirational to the third grade students of Richland One that has continued on for five years. Devine also stated, “It is the responsibility of all of us to support and empower the children in our community. We are working to build future generations of leaders for our city.”
Richland One Superintendent Dr. Percy Mack says, “Reading aloud to children helps them build their vocabulary and language skills. It also shows them that reading is fun.” The main goal of Together We Can Read is to work towards encouraging children to read at an early age.
The three main objectives of Together We Can Read are:
- It allows children who may not have book access to have a book of their very own.
- The book chosen each year has a Columbia or South Carolina focus so that children can identify with it and learn about their local culture history.
- The program helps children understand why reading is so important and allows them to interact with positive role models.
Within their time in the classrooms today, speakers not only read the book “Dave the Potter” aloud to the 1,910 students that were involved in the program and answered any questions that the students may have had, but also shared their career and relative success in life with the students. The third grade classroom level was chosen because according to the experts, “this age is a pivotal age for children and it is also when state testing normally begins.” Together as a community The City of Columbia and Richland One Schools hope to inspire a paradigm shift in our elementary schools to insure a bright future for our youth and community.