Last week, Collier County Public Schools wrapped up Literacy Week. All elementary schools offered fun, exciting events that allowed students to celebrate their love of reading. There were reading carnivals, literacy parades, book fairs, and more.
Tracey Bowlin, reading coach at Village Oaks Elementary School (VOE), put together a Community Readers event. The event, now in its fifth year, provides an opportunity for friends and community partners to visit the school and read to the children. “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” shares Bowlin. “It also builds vocabulary in fluency by hearing fluent readers.”
When Ethan Striz, head baseball coach at Immokalee High School, got the call from Bowlin, he was immediately on board. “I believe that our high school student-athletes can be positive role models for our future Indians. We talk about being a family every day in practice, and this community is part of that family.”
On January 29, Striz gathered five of his baseball players and headed to VOE.
Senior Michael Alviar enjoyed his experience reading to the students, “I feel like they really paid attention as I told them about the journey to high school. I have always wanted to be a role model to younger people, and I hope I helped these students want to stay on the right track.”
Junior Kaden Grimaldo felt like he could be someone the students could look up to, “It is up to me to set a good example for these students to follow. The students were really paying attention to what I had to say, which made me feel like they actually cared about what I said. Overall it was a great experience!”
According to Bowlin, it is important for students to see and hear from readers and role models in the community. “The students look up to the local athletes. The older students discuss with the younger students their experiences with reading as well as their love for it. It teaches our students that reading is important and can be a fun way to spend your free time.”
Senior Tyler Crabtree enjoyed conversing with the students about his book and other topics in which they veered. He also noticed one big character trait. “Having their focus on me was great because it showed respect and how respect is being taught within the classroom.”
Coach Striz hopes to send his players to the event each year. He added, “Following the event, Coach Gachette said it best, ‘Reach One, Teach One.’”