Obama School read aloud


Tamonda Griffiths Editor-in-Chief

World Read Aloud Day was founded a decade ago by a literary charity organization called LitWorld to celebrate the joys of reading aloud, as well as to advocate for literacy, according to its site.

On Feb. 5, the Barack H. Obama Magnet University School observed World Read Aloud Day with the help of faculty members of the Southern community.

According to Susan DeNicola, principal of the Obama School, the school officially opened on Jan. 7 to approximately 300 students ranging from kindergarten-age to fourth graders.

“We are a communications magnet school,” said DeNicola. “That is our magnet theme.”

DeNicola said in the last couple of years the school developed a relationship with the university and hopes to strengthen that through collaborative efforts through other departments at the university as well.

Currently, Laura Bower-Phipps is the professor of curriculum and learning, elementary education coordinator as well as the coordinator for faculty innovation for the Obama School.

She reached out to faculty members through emails, according to professor of communication, media, and screen studies, KC Councilor to see who was interested in participating in World Read Aloud Day.

“I actually like to read aloud to my students, the college students,” said Councilor.

Oral communication and storytelling, Councilor said is one of the oldest forms of storytelling. “It’s something that we naturally do,” said Councilor. “It’s part of our educational culture when kids are younger, and we sort of stop doing that; we think maybe it’s a childish thing or something as we get older.”

Listening to authors and people read is a great joy to him, Councilor said, and he selfishly wanted to indulge in that with a classroom of first graders.

“It was such a refreshing experience,” said Councilor, in comparison to being in a college class where oftentimes excitement and engagement can be minimal.

President Joe Bertolino said reading aloud to children makes reading fun, leading to children wanting to learn to read themselves, as well as creates a valued, educational, and caring interaction between children and those who read to them.

“I think children should be read to, often,” said Bertolino. “and then encouraged to read and then rewarded for it, so that it doesn’t become a chore. It becomes something children want to do.”

Bertolino and Councilor read to first grade classrooms and got to choose which books they wanted to read to the students; Councilor read a book about various animals across the globe, while Bertolino read about a dog getting ready for bedtime.

“I would do little voices,” said Bertolino, “and have the kids point different things out in the book.”

The children, Councilor and Bertolino said would always raise their hands.

“I was quite impressed with just their intelligence, their engagement,” said Councilor, “with how their teacher’s obviously foster a supportive environment for everyone.”

When teaching at the university, Bertolino said the mode of delivery in education matters in helping students learn the best way possible for them.

It is important for teachers, he said not only to step outside of their comfort zone but to also acknowledge one-size does not fit all to illustrate the themes of a particular class.

“I don’t consider myself a teacher or a professor or an instructor,” said Bertolino. “I consider myself a facilitator. For me, the students own the classroom.”

Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo

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