Gadsden Elementary School (GES) rung in National Reading Month with their Leaders as Readers program today. School staff invited community members to read to classrooms to promote literacy and a love of reading among their students.

South Carolina has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the nation, however, teachers and reading coaches throughout state schools are helping combat the statistics for students to achieve fluency in literacy.

Tania Toomer, reading interventionist at Gadsden Elementary guides teachers and students in 1st through 5th grade in the development of reading skills within classrooms.

Toomer began her journey in education as a classroom teacher over thirty years ago. “I saw that we had a lot of students reading below grade-level and I wanted to be a part of the solution.” After becoming Reading Recovery certified, Toomer went on to complete advanced training to learn new strategies for teachers to better help their students succeed as readers.

Teachers at GES are especially grateful for Toomer’s coaching. Victoria Smiley, first grade teacher at GES expressed her excitement for the Leaders as Readers day. Smiley enjoyed seeing her students get excited about reading with each each visiting guest in her classroom. “Our students are taking these experiences along with what they’re learning at school and incorporating it at home,” said Smiley.

Both Toomer and Smiley agreed that families reading with their children at home is a fundamental building block outside of the classroom to develop the necessary skills for students to advance in literacy.

Readers as Leaders welcomed community members from the Midlands to share their love of reading to GES students and interact with them as role models and mentors. GES staff hopes to continue programs like this throughout the month and into the future to help equip their students for future success.

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