Students and Soldiers Read Across America

Photo by Christy Porter
Soldier Justine Drockton has Ms. Emery Buehlmann’s first grade students’ undivided attention while she reads to them.
By Christy Porter,
Managing Editor

  Licking Elementary 1st and 2nd graders were treated with very special reading buddies on Friday, when soldiers from Ft. Leonard Wood arrived on a mission to visit with them in celebration of Read Across America day.
  Ms. Emery Buehlmann shared her first graders with soldiers Justine Drockton, Michael McNeil and Lelys Miller. Buehlmann said, “They are reading and talking with the kids, sharing interests, it’s great.” Drockton, McNeil and Miller then proceeded to Ms. Whitley Hart’s second grade class where they were greeted with much enthusiasm. Miller shares that the Army encourages and supports reading programs at local schools within the installations, but also for the adults in the military, recommending leadership development, history and military books.
  Ms. Debbie Taylor welcomed soldiers Melanie Foreman, Clinton Sikes and James Ashton to her first grade classroom. The children’s enthusiasm increased when they saw the soldiers came bearing gifts of Army water bottles and stickers proclaiming the U.S. Army. Foreman, Ashton and Sikes joined Soldier Corey Agin and advanced to Ms. Ashley Martin’s second grade class. Soldier Ashton reads to his kids nightly and said, “A good book can take you on a great journey.” Soldier Clinton Sikes shared that, “Without reading and an education, you can’t do anything.”
  Soldiers Edgardo Ortiz, Lavon Berry, and Agin visited with Ms. Autumn Case’s first grade class. Case said, “The kids were ecstatic, I think it’s great they are actively involved.” As Agin started to read his book, he commented, “I remember this book from when I was a kid.” Berry and Ortiz continued on to Ms. Chelsey Moncrief’s second grade classroom.

Photo by Christy Porter
Serious discussion took place between Soldier Corey Agin and students in second grade Ms. Ashley Martin’s class after reading. The students and soldiers enjoyed getting to know each other.
  The kids listened attentively, shared comments about the books they were reading and also visited with the soldiers on a more personal level. They asked where the soldiers were from, what they did, and shared their family alliances with the military. The soldiers willingly obliged in answering questions.
  Repeatedly the soldiers received high fives, smiles and hugs from the students. Soldier Foreman, with 21 years in the military, loves kids and is pursuing her master’s degree, hoping to teach middle school students after her military retirement. She revealed, “This is fun. I get to answer questions and share career choices; as a female soldier, I can really relate to the girls.”
  Last year, Fort Leonard Wood soldiers participated in Read Across America in Rolla. This year, they wanted more involvement, so they participated at five area schools; Licking Elementary, Phelps County R-III in Edgar Springs, Swedeborg Elementary, Freedom Elementary in St. Robert, and Truman Elementary in Rolla.

 “A child who reads will be an adult who thinks.”

  Read Across America Day was instituted in May, 1997, when the National Education Association created a day to celebrate reading among children. It was decided that the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the prominent children’s book author, would be appropriate. When calendar permits, it is held March 2nd. The first Read Across America Day was held in 1998.
 In summary, from Missourian Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”



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