Island Students benefit from Reading Program

Monday, January 12th, 2015

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Reading is essential to a child’s proper mental growth and development, and as such it is important to read to children from a very young age. Doctor Judy Raiford Pantelides is on Ambergris Caye implementing a reading program for preschool children and on Friday, January 9th the first reading was done at Holy Cross Anglican Primary School. 14 students listened attentively as community member and Vice-principal of San Pedro High School (SPHS), Conchita Flota read “Lola Loves Stories” to them.

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Dr. Pantelides is originally from Virginia, USA, where she carries out a reading program similar to the one being implemented here in San Pedro Town. She has worked as an adjunct professor at Christopher Newport University (CNU) for the past nine years since retiring from the public school system. Dr. Pantelides believes that reading to children stimulates their ability to learn and focus more in school. “I have worked together with a group of Kiwanis in Newport News to begin a Mayor’s Book Club where over 1600 preschool children have about 35 community readers read special books to them each month. For 4-5 months out of the school year, a book is given to every preschool child to take home. Our goal is to provide a diversity of community leaders to share the joy and excitement of reading with the children,” said Dr. Pantelides.

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The first book read to the children was “Lola Loves Stories”. At the end of the reading, each students receive their personal copy of the story book. “We were fortunate to have the company Scholastic Books, who provides our books in Newport News, to provide this month’s books for the class at Holy Cross. My Downtown Hampton Kiwanis Club in paid for the other books for February, March and April. The students will enjoy a different story being read by different persons each month,” said De. Pantelides.

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Initially, the reading program in San Pedro will concentrate in the Infant division at Holy Cross from January through April. The program will then expand to the infant division of other island primary school. “Since our graduate students, who are completing their Master’s degree in teaching, come to San Pedro every January for two weeks to teach in the schools, we thought we would add starting a Community Book Club this year to our plans. Reading is so important for us to model for our children and students. It shows them the world of possibilities that are there for them,” said Dr. Pantelides.

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Prominent community members will be recruited to carry out the readings, including figures such as the Mayor, Area Representatives, police officers, medical practitioners, and outstanding school teachers. “We are trying to providing a diversity of readers to share the joy and excitement of reading. This is helpful to encourage children to read as adults. We hope it encourages the students to go to the library and read more at home for pleasure. Reading opens up a child’s world and they are keener to practice it when they are influenced by a prominent figure in their society. This year, we have five CNU graduate students who are English majors and will be English secondary teachers upon graduation. We usually concentrated on bringing on math materials for teachers at San Pedro Roman Catholic Primary School on our visits, but decided this year to concentrate on reading and literacy. We are also bringing over 100 books to SPHS to help them expand a literacy library for their students, and we plan to distribute over 100 books to children in the San Mateo community before we leave.” said Dr. Pantelides.

To become a community reader or to assist in the program contact Dr. Judy Raiford Pantelides at [email protected]

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