Atkinson regales students with humor and humility

Published 6:53 am Tuesday, March 3, 2009

By Staff
Superintendent, other dignitaries appear on special reading day
Staff Writer
Students at Eastern Elementary School had a “substitute” teacher read to them Monday, one who probably is overqualified as a substitute teacher.
June Atkinson, superintendent of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, helped those students celebrate Read Across America Day, which is celebrated on or near the March 2 birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss.”
Read Across America Day is sponsored by the National Education Association.
Atkinson stayed away from “Green Eggs and Ham,” opting to read “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf to a gathering of about 40 first-grade students in the school’s media center.
After the short read, Atkinson implored the attentive first-graders to “read, read, read.”
As important as Read Across America Day is to students, Atkinson said she believes the day holds an even greater message for parents.
Atkinson was invited to read to students at the school by DeAnne Smith, a first-grade teacher there.
Smith, who donned a Cat in the Hat costume for the day, welcomed Atkinson to her class after the state superintendent completed her reading assignment in the media center.
Atkinson read “I’ll Always Love You” by Hans Wilhelm to Smith’s first-graders.
Other notable volunteer readers included John Rivenbark, who is Beaufort County Schools’ interim superintendent, County Manager Paul Spruill, Beaufort County Board of Education Chairman Robert Belcher and Washington Mayor Judy Meier Jennette.
Jennette read “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale” by Mo Willems, to one first-grade class and the Dr. Seuss classic “Horton Hatches the Egg” to another class.
According to Principal Patrick Abele, more 100 volunteers from the community read to students. Abele said Read Across America Day reiterates the importance of reading.
For her doing part, Atkinson received a Read Across America card from the school. It was presented by Amanda Smith, a student in DeAnne Smith’s class. The younger Smith drew a picture of the Cat in the Hat on the card.
A copy of “Four Seasons for Little People” was donated to every kindergarten student at the school by the Eye Care Center, Tayloe’s Hospital Pharmacy, Taylor Oil &Gas Co., Frank’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant and State Farm Insurance.
To learn more about the program, or to find out how you can be a part of next year’s celebration at Eastern Elementary School, call the school’s main office at 946-1611.
Cutline for corresponding photo: North Carolina Schools Superintendent June Atkinson greets students at Eastern Elementary School Monday before reading a book to them. Atkinson was at the school for “Read Across America Day.” (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)