First Lady Deal urges Ruth Hill students 'to be good at reading'
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Sandra Deal takes early literacy seriously, and she wants the Coweta County School System to know it.
Georgia’s first lady visited Ruth Hill Elementary School Tuesday, encouraging kindergartners in their learning journey by reading aloud “What I’d Like to Be” by 90-year-old Georgian Elizabeth Brown.
“To be good at reading you have to practice,” the former schoolteacher said. “You have all of these wonderful teachers here to teach you to read, but it’s not enough to just read to your teacher at school. You need to take a book home to read to …”
“Your parents!” students responded.
“That’s right,” Mrs. Deal said. “And your grandparents and your brothers and sisters. If you have younger brothers and sisters, you can read to them, and then YOU get to be the teacher!”
Gov. Nathan Deal has written a poem to inspire Georgia’s youngest students. His wife shared “Learning to Read” with the Ruth Hill audience, which included Coweta County School System officials, faculty and staff and members of the school’s Junior Beta Club. Governor and Mrs. Deal each had mothers who were longtime teachers, which they say inspired them to champion the cause of early education.
Mrs. Deal’s visit is part of her “Read Across Georgia” initiative. This month, she will visit 60 school districts across the state and says her goal is eventually to read in classrooms inside each of Georgia’s 180 school systems to emphasize the importance of early education.
“We must increase the percentage of children reading well and independently at grade-level because this lays the groundwork for all of their future academic and career endeavors,” she said. “I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish during my Read Across Georgia initiative this year.”
Mrs. Deal’s tour of the area included four schools and a civic club. Prior to her Ruth Hill stop, she read to students at Centralhatchee Elementary School in Franklin. Mrs. Deal also visited Whitesburg Elementary School and the Whitesburg Library, was keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Carrollton’s noon meeting, and finished her day at Carrollton Elementary School.
“It was a wonderful visit,” Ruth Hill Principal Valerie Mathura said. “I think she enjoyed it as well.”