SLIDELL, La. - Maj. Gen. Peter S. Lennon, commanding general of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, shared in the joy of reading with pre-K through first-grade students at Cypress Cove Elementary School as part of the school’s Guest Reader Series, in Slidell, La., Friday, March 22.
Mrs. Rosalin Scott, President of the Parent Teacher Association, launched the program at the beginning of the school year.
“I think one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the ability to read,” said Scott. “If they start out with a strong foundation now, it will carry them the rest of their lives.”
Lennon read three stories during his visit: “The Tortoise and the Hare”, “Aliens Love Underpants” and “How the Camel Got His Hump”.
“It was a lot of fun, I have not read The Tortoise and the Hare since I was reading to my niece and nephew—that was probably 25 years ago, so it was a flashback, and a very fun event,” said Lennon.
Guest readers including congressmen, mangers of local businesses, artists and television personalities have all participated in the successful program.
“I felt that one of the greatest ways to show the children how important reading is was to invite people from our community to come in and read to them,” said Scott. “It gives them an opportunity to see what they can become and how important reading is.”
Scotts’ husband, Maj. Keil Scott, is a soldier with the 377th TSC and thought Lennon would be a great choice. The class interrupted the stories several times with rambunctious laughter. Lennon says he got just as much enjoyment from the experience.
“It’s a great opportunity, it’s very rewarding and it’s very special to see the smiles on these children’s faces and their enthusiasm,” said Lennon. “If we can put a message out there that literacy is very important, that you learn by reading and that you get exposed to a bigger world by reading, its important.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one child in four grows up not knowing how to read. When community leaders spend time reading to the children, Scott says it influences their feelings about reading and helps build their enthusiasm.
“They love it, they look forward to it,” said Scott. “Every time they have a guest reader they are glued to them and they really enjoy it, and they also let them know when they skip pages!”
The Army promotes literacy in many ways including through its Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program that recognizes March as National literacy Month. As an Army spouse, Scott sees the series as a meaningful way to contribute to the future.
“As an Army wife we are just as dedicated to our country as our spouses are,” said Scott. “Starting this program is just another way for us to give back to our country and our community.”
The success of the program has secured its place as a regular event at the school and Lennon believes the unit’s participation is an important part of connecting with the community.
“It’s part of the outreach that we are not just tenants here but we are actually partners in this community,” said Lennon.