Read Aloud Day focuses on importance of literacy

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Josh Batchelor hadn’t shown much interest in reading while attending Watson Elementary.

It wasn’t a matter of his reading ability, but what was being read in the class. His third-grade teacher Shelly Culp recognized that, and she tried to build some interest.

“At first, I didn’t get the grasp of the situation,” Batchelor said.

He and his family had just moved back to the area, and Culp said he was struggling a little bit. Usually boys struggle with having an interest in reading, she noted.

Culp bought a couple books with her own money for Batchelor to read on a topic she knew he loved: football.

“I always remember that, and he always remembers that,” said Jeremy Batchelor, Josh’s father and assistant superintendent for Austintown schools. “Because it was her, he didn’t hesitate at all to read to her class.”

“It shows how much educators go out of their way for their students,” Josh Batchelor said. “If you’re a janitor or a teacher, you can affect somebody’s life, no matter what you do.”

Josh Batchelor read “Tiki and Ronde Barber: Teammates” aloud for Culp’s current fifth-grade class Thursday for World Read Aloud day at Austintown Intermediate School. The book, which is based on the twin NFL players’ childhoods, was one of the books Culp bought for Batchelor while he was her student.

“It was kind of nostalgic,” he said. “Seeing her brought back a lot of memories of Watson, and how much fun it was being in school and with friends.”

Josh Batchelor is attending Penn State Shenango campus and minoring in exercise science. He signed autographs – like the Barber brothers – for Culp’s class following the reading.

Every classroom at AIS celebrated World Read Aloud Day Thursday.

“I thought that was fabulous. I think reading aloud is, I don’t know, becoming a lost art,” Culp said. “I think the emphasis on that was good. I think it was great for kids to hear stories.”

The day sheds light on the importance of literacy, and its developmental potential for children. To celebrate, teachers and students read aloud, and the school invited parents to bring their favorite books to read from.

“From a district standpoint, kids learning how to read is important,” Jeremy Batchelor said. “Even in math class, kids are reading aloud today.”

Culp said the decision to participate in World Read Aloud Day was made last-minute, but the school is already planning to celebrate again next year.

“I just love doing it. I think it’s really great for the kids, and I’m happy we did it as a school,” she said.

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