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Real People Read

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Real People Read… a catchy name for a most important program in Vicksburg Warren School District. After all, if our children cannot read, what have we been doing all these years they were in school. America is experiencing a crisis with the reading scores of school age children. National statistics show that if children lag behind in reading scores and cannot catch up by third grade, their future does not bode well. If they move from third grade with below average reading scores, the reality is they will remain behind, not only in reading but other subjects as well. The State of Mississippi consistently ranks on the bottom of the literacy list; other states breathe a sigh of relief knowing Mississippi will bring up the rear. The “glass half full” approach to this serious issue is that it gives us plenty of room to grow. Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, Superintendent of VWSD, an avid reader, implemented a new initiative several months ago: REAL PEOPLE READ. She came up with the idea when she would get flashes of: “read the label,” “read the fine print,” “read before you sign anything.” Early in her career as an educator, she realized that reading is not a course, it is not a class you sign up for, it is a way of life. People who cannot read miss out on an important, enriching part of life and, indeed, are cheated out of some aspects of life. Real People Read is a multi-year program. During the first year, community volunteers are needed in schools to read to children, to help children understand the importance of reading, to talk to children about why to read, to encourage children to read. Dr. Swinford said in some schools in VWSD, older children are volunteering to read to younger children. Dr. Swinford hopes to see the second year of Real People Read expand to enrich our school libraries. Her visits to every school in the district show an adequate supply of library books; however, overall she believes the libraries are outdated. “We do not have current technology, our collections are old and out-of-fashion. Historical books are important, necessary parts of any library but in this age of technology, so are Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, iRivers and i-Pads. We need to modernize our libraries to be Media Centers, where children want to go.” Dr. Swinford’s vision for Real People Read is to engage the community to help create a passion for reading in Vicksburg Warren School District. That makes me want to jump up and cheer for the Swinford Team! I hope by now you are saying to yourself, “Sign me up!” If you want to be a part of Real People Read, the only thing you have to do is call the principal at a local school and offer your time to read in a classroom. The school will provide the books. My last question to Dr. Swinford was, “How many people are needed to really get this program off the ground?” Her answer was so indicative of her enthusiasm, her vision, her hopes and dreams for our Warren County children. “Oh,” she said, “I expect this community will blow the roof off and beat any documented evidence of community engagement ever known.” Me, too, Dr. Swinford…me, too. The general idea is that we all need to be reading. We need to be reading to our children, other people’s children, in the classroom, at church…we need to be reading every chance we get. I consider this the Dr. Seuss/Green Eggs and Ham approach to literacy. We should be reading to our children on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in the dark, in a tree, in a car, in a box, with a fox, in the house, with a mouse..we should be reading EVERYWHERE! SO, COME ON, VICKSBURG…LET’S READ! Here are some REAL PEOPLE in Vicksburg. They may not be reading Dr. Seuss, but here is what they are reading: Rev. Cary Stockett Pastor Crawford Street United Methodist Church Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front (Heritage of Mississippi Series) by Timothy B. Smith Mississippi’s Civil War: A Narrative History (State Narratives of the Civil War) by Ben Wynne The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield The two history books are about how the average civilian (as opposed to soldiers) here in Mississippi experienced the Civil War. Both books were very revealing. The novel was marvelous, full of plot twists and beautiful writing. Marianne May Jones Realtor Coldwell Banker All Stars Same Kind Of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent Excellent reading – very inspirational! David McDonald Warren County Board of Supervisors District 1 Supervisor Decision Points by George Bush It is very interesting considering some of the decisions we, as a Board, have to make which affect the lives of the citizens of Warren County.  My wife is reading The Fall of The House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America’s Most Powerful Trial Lawyer by Curtis Wilkie.  I plan on reading it next. Dr. Liz Swinford Superintendent Vicksburg Warren School District The Moral Imperative of School Leadership by Michael Fullan I am doing a book study with my principals. It is a book about the sense of urgency which exists in our schools to do things differently. It is supported by research. We feel that it will inspire us and ignite us to continue moving forward in our efforts. Faye Wilkinson Assistant Dean (retired) Hinds Community College/Vicksburg Campus In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir by Neil White The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards Both books get you hooked on reading from the first page to the last! Lynn Foley Director of Sales Southern Hospitality Services Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suite, Econo Lodge Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks Typical Nicholas Sparks with colorful characters, beautiful settings and DRAMA! He always pulls me into his stories and I find myself sympathizing with the characters and wanting the best for them. And, that is usually how it turns out in the end. Dr. Matt Buckles Pastor First Baptist Church Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas and Timothy J. Keller This book is an outstanding work on the German situation (politically, economically and spiritually) in the early twentieth century, events leading to WWII, his martyrdom, the evil of the Nazi mind and the German church’s struggles in that era. What Every American Should Know About The Middle East by Melissa Rossi This book takes each of the Middle Eastern countries and describes them in terms of population, religion, history, connection to America and Israel, ties to world events in the last century, oil discovery and production, current political climate and debunking of myths about each country. This work is one in a series of What Every American Should Know About… Scotland: the Story of a Nation by Magnus Magnusson I enjoyed this book on a country that gets overlooked as per contributions to world science, politics, religion, business, industry and literature. Linda Fondren Owner Positively Reshaping Women Shape Up Sisters Oil for Your Lamp by Lisa Hammond and B. J. Gallagher The book is about women taking care of themselves. Women are losing ground on the happiness scale. When we see women who shine, they all have one thing in common…they know that self care is the first step to happiness. “To keep a lamp burning, we have to put oil in it.” Mother Teresa Eric R. Welch Evangelist Vicksburg Church of Christ In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger The book is not written from a religious perspective but the concepts are, indeed, Biblical. Stay-at-home moms (SAHMS as Dr. Laura puts it) are denigrated in our society today, especially by the “feminista,” of which Dr. Laura used to be a part. Dr. Laura writes to encourage SAHMS and offers ways to answer those who would consider them a threat and would smear them. She encourages SAHMS by quoting many of her listeners and readers who have left lucrative careers in order to find the ultimate fulfillment as wives and mothers. I read this book both as a minister for my study and preaching and as a husband. I would encourage all REAL husbands to read it as well. Todd Boolos, CPA Managing Partner Boolos CPA Firm A Pilgrim’s Regress by C. S. Lewis This book is about C. S. Lewis’ conversion from Atheism to Theism to Christianity. Lori Burke Marketing Manager Ameristar Casino Hope for Each Day: Words of Wisdom and Faith by Billy Graham This book is inspiring and educational. It is my special treat whether I read it when I wake up or go to bed. It is also a great prelude to reading a passage in the Bible each day. The book was a gift from my husband and I will definitely buy it for others. Mrs. Perkins’ Kindergarten Class Warrenton Elementary The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting A classic tale about a people doctor who liked animals better than people so he learned the languages animals speak to each other and, eventually, became a world renowned animal doctor. Barbara Tolliver Executive Director United Way of West Central Mississippi Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in your Mind by Joyce Meyer This book is a must! I purchased it for my niece but have not given it to her because once I started reading it, I found it so meaningful. It is helping me to renew my mind by tearing down the negative strongholds that I encounter daily in my Christian journey. Dr. Debbie Smith Pediatrician River Region Medical Center Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell This book was not as good as her other Scarpetta books, but it was definite food for thought on nanobio possibilities..both good and bad uses. I also have The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America’s Most Powerful Trial Lawyer by Curtis Wilkie and will be starting it soon. Danielle Warnock Director Children’s Ministry Crawford Street United Methodist Church The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Definitely a must-read if you enjoy themes of weighing survival against humanity and life against love. This story is set in the ruins of a place once known as North America. It was such a bizarre and unrealistic story, yet, I could not put it down!! Could this really happen in the future? Dr. Kenya Gaskin Chiropractor/Owner Gaskin Chiropractic Still Missing by Chevy Stevens I just started this book and it is certainly keeping my attention. This is a story about a realtor who was abducted while showing a home. She was held captive before finally being released. This is her account of what she suffered during that time. Harley Caldwell Managing Broker Coldwell Banker All Stars, LLC Same Kind Of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent What Difference Do It Make by Ron Hall and Denver Moore These are inspirational books. They don’t always make you feel good, sometimes they make you feel very badly, but they will touch your heart.  Both books deal with homelessness.  One morning I encountered three homeless people between Adams Street and South Frontage Road.  I wonder how many people I have been looking beyond on the streets of Vicksburg.  Recently, the front page of the paper was devoted to the homeless in our town.  We should all read both of these books.]]]]> ]]>

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