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Read Across America Cat-a-Van Tour: Week 3

Schools in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi grab their hats to read with the Cat, during the final week of the Cat-a-Van.

Read Across America, Southern Style

Children celebrate Read Across America

Bradley Elementary School students are ready to read. Photo ©2014 Brett Flashnick/NEA.

Under bright sunny skies, NEA’s Read Across America Cat-a-Van Tour 3 rolled south, beginning its tour in Columbia, South Carolina, to the delight of hundreds of elementary students.

The tour began at Bradley Elementary School with students and teachers lining the school’s long driveway and the school band playing in the background. The Cat-a-Van arrived, accompanied by a Richland County Sheriff Department escort and VIP readers.

“This is such a wonderful treat for students and staff said Stephanie M. Johnson, second-grade teacher and Bradley’s Read Across America Committee Chair, who noted the school spent the previous week on a host of reading activities.
Read more about Monday's events.

Read Across America Cat-a-Van Rolls into Georgia

“Do you like green eggs and ham, do you like them, Sam I am?”

Children celebrate Read Across America

Photo ©2014 Brett Flashnick/NEA.

With those familiar words, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel brought Seuss and sunshine to Augusta, Georgia, leading hundreds of students in a spirited reading of Green Eggs and Ham and sharing greetings from NEA members.

Joined by Renaissance Dental Account Executive Andy Berli, Georgia Association of Educators President Calvine Rollins, and Richmond County Association of Educators President Dr. Tonia Mason, President Van Roekel began the day at Lamar-Milledge Elementary School and ended the day at Sue Reynolds Elementary School, sharing the history of the NEA’s year-round literacy program and the importance of reading all year long.

Renaissance executive Andy Berli quizzed the excited students on their tooth brushing and reading knowledge and shared the Renaissance oral health and literacy messge, 2 x 2+20, 24 minutes devoted to oral health and reading. Students cheered loudly with the presentation of the Renaissance donation of $500 for each school’s library but saved their loudest cheer for the announcement of the gift bag contents, including tooth brushes, floss, stickers, posters and their very own Cat in the Hat book.

“This was such a special day for all of us, especially the students,” said RCEA President Dr. Tonia Mason. “They and their teachers have worked so very hard and to reward them with a Cat-a-Van visit is so fitting. We thank the NEA and Renaissance Dental, and the Georgia Association of Educators for all they do to keep students growing and learning.”

“A Rich Reward” for Students' Efforts

Children celebrate Read Across America

Photo ©2014 Brett Flashnick/NEA.

With song and celebration, students at Hillcrest Elementary School welcomed NEA’s Read Across America Cat-a-Van tour to Macon, Georgia, brightening an otherwise cloudy, rainy day. Clad in their favorite red and white stovepipe Cat in the Hat reading hats, the students and teachers clapped and sang and cheered.

“This is so exciting for Dublin students,” said NEA-Retired member Gail Ford, a former elementary teacher who spent more than 30 years in the classroom and now works part-time in Dublin schools. “They’ve been working so hard to achieve their accelerated reading goals and this tour is a rich reward for their efforts.”

The Read Across America Cat-a-Van shared video highlights from past Read Across America celebrations and songs from Seussical the Musical before a reading of Green Eggs and Ham from Dr. Effie Carr, President of the Dublin City Unit of the Georgia Association of Educators. The celebration took a noisy, happy turn with the announcement of the $500 school library donation from Renaissance Dental by Renaissance Dental Account Executive Andy Berli and donations of books, floss, stickers, and bookmarks.

At Burdell-Hunt Elementary School, the brightly decorated school gymnasium swelled with hundreds of students thrilled by the Cat-a-Van tour and coverage by local television cameras. Chants and cheers echoed throughout the stadium as students roared their delight at the reading and announcement of the books and check donation.
“For our students, this was a special moment,” said Burdell-Hunt first grade teacher Kiara Trigger. “They saw for themselves that reading is not only educational, but a great deal of fun.

“They felt a kinship with students and teachers around the country and it’s made them more determined than ever to keep reading. I’m so proud of my Association for creating a program with this kind of impact. Thank you, thank you NEA.”

Super Seussational Tour 3

The students of Super Stone Mill Elementary School in Stone Ridge, Georgia, lived up to the school’s name as they welcomed NEA’s Read Across America Cat-a-Van Tour 3 with open arms and happy cheers.

NEA Studen Program Chair David Tjaden

NEA Student Program Chair David Tjaden gives a rousing rendition of Green Eggs and Ham during Read Across America. Photo ©2014 NEA.

NEA Student Program Chair David Tjaden wowed the students with an energetic reading of his favorite book and theirs, Green Eggs and Ham and DeKalb County Association of Educators President David Schutten introduced Georgia Association of Educators President Calvine Rollins, the school superintendent and school board members.

“Spending time to read a book with you is one of the highlights of my travels,” President Rollins told students. “and this national testament to the power of reading with a Cat-a-Van tour that spreads this message makes me so very proud.”

The students, decked out with handmade ties and the familiar red and white stovepipe hats of the Cat in the Hat, cheered at the announcement of the Renaissance Dental donation for the school library but their cheers grew even louder when they learned each student would take home a book.

“How exciting to bring a gift of school library funding, toothbrushes, and books to a school that has been working so hard,” said Renaissance Dental Account Executive Andy Berli, as the students paraded by the bright red Cat-a-Van vehicles. “We’re so pleased to sponsor this great tour and program.”

It’s a Wrap! NEA’s Read Across America Tour 3 Ends the Week in Mississippi

Children celebrate Read Across America

Photo ©2014 Darnell Wilburn/NEA.

Three weeks, eight states, thousands of miles and thousands of happy schoolchildren left in the wake of NEA’s Read Across America Cat-a-Van tour, the Seussational journey came to a close Friday, March 14, at the Jackson, Mississippi Medical Mall.

School was out but Dr. Seuss was in as hundreds of students, led by Mississippi Association of Educators President Jack Yates, Renaissance Dental Account Executive Thomas Dimmer and special guests, read the Dr. Seuss favorite, Green Eggs and Ham. The students cheered at the announcement of the Renaissance Dental $500 donation to Galloway Elementary School and their smiles grew wider at the announcement that each child would receive a a copy of The Cat in the Hat.

“This was such a special day for my children and for me,” said parent Brenda Ames. “To meet the Cat in the Hat and see books come alive is something we’ll all remember for years to come.”

Children celebrate Read Across America

Photo ©2014 Darnell Wilburn/NEA.

As students filed out and past the brightly decorated Cat-a-Van vehicles for the last time, the Seussational reading tour came to a close, leaving behind a trail of happy and grateful students and teachers across the nation.

NEA’s Read Across America would like to extend a very special thank you to Renaissance Dental for making the tour possible, and to three wonderful drivers who drove the entire length of the tour and made the Cat-a-Van tours so special, Sienna Martinez, Raul Valladares, and Hector Romero.

-By Anita Merina


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