A visit to Lanier Primary School in Bryan County on May 17 marked the completion of First Lady Sandra Deal’s commitment to read to students in all of Georgia’s 181 school districts as part of her “Read Across Georgia” initiative. Launched less than two years ago, “Read Across Georgia” is the First Lady’s initiative in support of Gov. Nathan Deal’s goal of increasing the percentage of children reading at or above grade level by the completion of third grade.
“As a former teacher, broadening horizons for young people is something that I hold dear to my heart,” said Mrs. Deal. “Though my 'Read Across Georgia' tour has come to a close, the goal of encouraging Georgia’s students to read will never end. One of my priorities throughout this tour was to emphasize to parents, teachers and mentors that simply reading stories aloud to young children and encouraging discussion of the characters and concepts greatly improves and enhances reading and literacy skills. It has been an absolute joy, and I hope that it inspired the future leaders of our state to want to learn to read.”
At each school, Mrs. Deal read “Who I'd Like to Be,” a book penned by retired Georgia school teacher Elizabeth Brown when she was 90 years old. Support from AT&T allowed the donation of a copy of the book to each school Mrs. Deal read at throughout the tour.
“The First Lady’s tour exemplifies her dedication and passion for our state’s youngest learners,” said Gov. Deal. “We believe that she is the first First Lady to visit every county in the state, as well as the first to visit every school system. By sharing her love of reading with children, parents and educators in every school system in our state, Sandra has helped build a strong educational foundation for young Georgians.”
Improving the percentage of students reading at or above grade level by the completion of third grade is one of Gov. Deal’s strategic priorities for the state of Georgia. Evidence shows that children who do not read at grade level by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to require remediation, drop out of school, and have higher unemployment rates later in life than their reading-proficient peers. Only 32 percent of Georgia fourth-graders performed at or above the “proficient” level on the 2011 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).