In recognition of a 10-year partnership between the City of Columbia and Richland County School District One, both groups came together on Monday, March 19 to celebrate the anniversary of the Together We Can Read initiative with a kick off press conference in Council Chambers.
Elected officials, City of Columbia staff and community leaders volunteering as guest readers participated in the event that also revealed the name of the book for this milestone event. “The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls” by Louise Meriwether and illustrated by South Carolina’s own, Jonathan Green, is the featured book for Reading Day. In 30 elementary schools in Richland One, nearly 2,000 third grad students will hear the story of Robert Smalls and his impact on South Carolina history.
Devine outlined that the genesis of the Together We Can Read initiative started with a conversation with then Richland County School District One Superintendent Dr. Percy Mack following a site visit to another school district. Devine talks about that trip, “On the way back I was talking to then Superintendent Dr. Percy Mack and one of the things that he talked about was that we would just love to get people into our schools reading to our kids … Because you have no idea how that one person going into a school reading to somebody and telling them about what they do and exciting them about the love of reading how that transcends beyond that day.”
Vice Chairman of the Richland School District One Board of Commissioners Jaime L. Devine said, “If you know anything about numerology the number 10 means strong. So we are here celebrating the 10th anniversary of Together We Can Read. I remember going on that trip with my wife and here we are again 10 years later to celebrate this great partnership with the city which we greatly appreciate.”
Richland County School District One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon said, “Whenever we can get you all into our schools to see the great things that are going on. To see our students to see the excitement that they show when you do put a book in their hands. And to make that even more special when you guys sit down too and let them know you are interested in them and that learning and that engagement takes place. Because it’s not only about the book but … there’s some conversation and discussion that goes on after you read the book and sometimes that can be just as important, just as engaging.”
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine presented a proclamation to Commissioner Jaime L. Devine and Witherspoon declaring Wednesday, March 21 Together We Can Read Reading Day.
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine was presented a plaque commemorating the10th anniversary of the initiative and her leadership as the founder of Together We Can Read.