Georgia’s first lady, Sandra Deal, read to pre-K students in UGA’s Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center March 16 as part of the Read Across Georgia campaign.
Deal, a former sixth-grade teacher and the daughter of educators, went all out with facial expressions and sound effects to engage the group of 4- and 5-year-olds who gathered to hear her read T.J.’s Discovery, a new book written by teachers at the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School.
To date, Deal has spoken to students in all 159 Georgia counties and more than 430 schools as part of a campaign to promote literacy. She spent more than an hour visiting and reading to the students at the Child Development Lab, a unit of the human development and family science department within the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“I feel like the key to (being successful) is getting a good education when you’re young,” Deal said. “That’s why I’ve taken the opportunity to read to young children rather than work with the older children since I’ve been first lady. I feel like the foundation is just so very, very important. Pre-K is where we start.”
After reading to the McPhaul students, Deal invited Chelsea Jarrell, park manager at the nearby Victoria Bryant State Park, to speak to the students about various outdoor activities available to them that promote family interaction.
As she left, Deal was presented with a handmade sign from Amelia Spell, one of the McPhaul Center students, signed by her and her classmates. Deal visited with students at Athens’ Chase Street Elementary School and Madison County’s Ila Elementary School later in the day.
The Read Across Georgia campaign was launched in 2012 and supports Gov. Nathan Deal’s Grade Level Reading Initiative, which aims to have all Georgia third-graders reading at grade level or better by the end of third grade.