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Hats Off to Readers

Therese Workman

Therese Workman is TASC's Web Communications Manager.

Not long ago—during my 6th week as new TASCer— I visited an elementary school for the first time in ten years. OK,15 years.

PS 186, which partners with NIA Community Services to expand the school day in Bensonhurst, was celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday with two simultaneous events: Silly Hat Day for students, and VIP (Very Important Parents) Readers Day. (See slideshow.) The school invited parents and community friends into classrooms to read stories with children.

I found the school alive with kids wearing amazing balloon and Lego hat creations. Walking from classroom to classroom, I saw police officers and local politicians reading their old favorites like Green Eggs and Ham. As I bounced around snapping pictures, I watched Mike Katz, the director of entertainment for the Staten Island Yankees, do a dramatic interpretation of Oh the Thinks You Can Think! Meanwhile, parent Rehab Refai, who'd prepared a Powerpoint presentation, quizzed her group of 1st graders on their Dr. Seuss knowledge.

Down the hall, another mom was greeting her class. Allison Phillippin, who works as an NIA program aide in the extended school hours, was adjusting her own Silly Hat while organizing worksheets she'd prepared to follow up the reading. "It's like we get to switch roles and be teachers for a few minutes," she said.

A 3rd grader named Juan told me events like VIP Reader Day happen all the time at PS 186. I met him in the stairwell while trying to catch my breath after climbing five flights. Juan’s particular taste is for biographies and soccer. (He’d already read the Jesse Owen biography I suggested, so I told him he might check out one on George Washington Carver and his 100+ inventions from peanuts.)

Chiropractor Vincent Adamo was invited to readers' day by his patient’s daughter, a student at the school. Before his reading, he fielded questions about his job from his curious audience, including one student whose anatomy questions were particularly pointed. Dr. Adamo told me, “You just know he’s going to be a doctor.”

Check out these pictures from the morning portion of VIP Readers Day to see how PS 186 is integrating community partners, parents and local professionals in a seamless and fun way. For even more evidence of how these types of partnerships benefit kids, take a look at our literature review, Parental Engagement: Evidence on Impact.

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