Gov. Taft gives education 1st place

Taft planned to read 'B is for Buckeye' to a group of local second- and third-grade pupils.
CANFIELD -- Gov. Bob Taft was scheduled to give some Mahoning County pupils a lesson in their ABCs this morning.
A is for A Visit from Taft, who was to stop by the Canfield Fair to read a book to local elementary school pupils.
"B is for Buckeye" was the title of the book he would read.
And C is for the Canfield Fair, which Taft was to officially open during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Western Reserve Village.
Taft was to read "B is for Buckeye" to the youngsters in the fair Educational Hall after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The book, by Marcia Schonberg, uses the alphabet to teach lessons about Ohio's history. For example, in the book, W is for the Wright brothers.
The pupils, who are from throughout Mahoning County, volunteered for the opportunity to hear Taft read "B is for Buckeye." They also received a copy of the book.
Emphasis on reading: Taft's appearance was to serve as the kickoff for the Mahoning Valley Reads initiative, the local title for the OhioReads program.
This summer, Taft issued a "reading challenge" to elementary school pupils through the program. The challenge asks pupils to read 20 books before the end of the summer.
Pupils must write the name and author of each book on a challenge form and send the form to the governor's office. A parent or teacher also must sign the form.
Forms are available in the fair's educational hall.
Pupils who meet the challenge and return the form to the governor's office by Sept. 30 will receive a certificate in November or December.
The Mahoning Valley Reads initiative is the name for the OhioReads program in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
Excitement: William Hyde, the superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center, said Wednesday he felt the pupils were looking forward to Taft's visit.
"I think they're just going to be delighted that the governor of the state of Ohio is reading to them in a very informal setting," Hyde said. "I know the adults are excited."
Tom Romack, the director of administration for the county educational center service center, said Taft's visit demonstrates the importance of reading to the pupils.
"The emphasis on reading is important in every school district in Ohio. It certainly is in Mahoning County," he said.
Romack and Hyde noted that pupils must be able to read well to comprehend and pass Ohio's proficiency tests.
Official visits: A Taft spokeswoman added that the governor visits several county fairs and the Ohio State Fair each year. Last year, Taft spent a night with a local family in the dairy barn at the state fair.
Fair Board President Joe Dickey Jr. called Taft's visit to the Canfield Fair "one of the highlights of the fair."
"We are very enthused about his support of our educational program in the Mahoning Valley," Dickey said.

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