A small group of first and second grade students at Mt. Vernon Community School had a visit from three members of the Obama administration today, as part of the President’s “Read to the Top” initiative.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson in a special bilingual reading event, to culminate the Education Department’s summer literacy initiative — “Read to the Top!!” on Friday, Aug. 28 at Mount Vernon Community School in Alexandria, Va.
Throughout the summer, the department has partnered with community organizations nationwide to combat summer learning loss in response to President Obama’s national volunteer campaign, “United We Serve,” which challenges all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful service to meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.
During the “Read to the Top!!” event on Friday, Secretary Solis read, “My Very Own Room – Mi Propio Cuartito,” by Amada Irma Perez; Administrator Jackson read, “Growing Vegetable Soup,” by Lois Ehlert, and Secretary Duncan read, “Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth.
Friday’s event is the culmination of two months of weekly summer reading events hosted by the department, which encouraged students to keep using their reading skills during the summer, so they can go back to school ready to learn and achieve. The department held 12 reading events with 15 Cabinet members and senior administration officials. More than 1,200 children from more than 30 private, traditional public, and charter schools attended the reading events and received more than 2,000 books donated by Scholastic Inc.
Mount Vernon Community School students have the opportunity to spend more time reading due to their school’s modified year-round calendar, which includes short breaks called “intersessions” throughout the year. Students also benefit from the school’s voluntary Spanish language immersion program which allows for literacy in both English and Spanish. Secretary Duncan supports the idea of extending the school day and/or year to improve student achievement.