Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal, stopped by the Liberty County Pre-K Center on Tuesday morning as part of her state-wide tour to promote literacy and celebrate Georgia’s Pre-K Month.
Although pre-K centers across the state took part in Georgia’s Pre-K Week celebration from Oct. 6-10, Deal and the Georgia Children’s Cabinet are celebrating all month long by traveling the state and reading to local pre-K classes, according to a news release.
The focus of Deal’s visit was to stress the importance of early-childhood literacy and developing reading skills in young learners.
“We need for our children to learn how to read, because we see the disadvantages that happen when they don’t read well,” Deal said. “My goal is to have every child reading well by third grade, because in fourth grade, they have to go into reading for material … It’s important that they have the vocabulary and the skills, because … they can’t take a test if they don’t understand the vocabulary to know what the question is asking.”
Deal toured the Liberty Pre-K Center, visiting classes and encouraging students to practice their reading skills along the way. She spent nearly half an hour in one class, reading “Who I’d Like to Be,” a children’s book authored by Elizabeth Brown.
“Next year, you’ll be in kindergarten,” Deal told the students, “so we’re trying to learn all the things we can about learning how to read and how important reading is. It’s important because it helps us to be able to be who we want to be and do what we want to do. We get to choose what we’d like to do if we read really well and we practice (reading).”
A former public-school educator, Deal connected well with the children as she acted out scenes from the book. Her animated delivery kept the children’s interest, and many raised their hands to ask questions or offer child-like insights.
“I have four dogs,” one student proclaimed proudly.
“My dog once ate a dead mouse,” another offered.
Earlier this month, local civic leaders, elected officials and community volunteers participated in Georgia Pre-K Week by reading to students at the Liberty Pre-K Center.
According to the news release, approximately 60 percent of all 4-year-olds in Georgia are served by the state’s pre-K program and Head Start. Nearly 84,000 children are in enrolled in pre-K statewide.