This Week at READ USA

Book Choice and Ownership

Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

  • Read USA Inc.
  • May 10 2023

Every year, the first full week of May is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and recognizing the infinite contributions of these tremendous individuals who are helping raise the next generation: teachers! From kindergarten through 12th grade, teachers serve as almost an extension of the home with the amount of time, knowledge, and energy they invest in our students. And we know that their passion for students and teaching goes well beyond the classroom!

READ USA believes that “Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher” is so wonderfully true, as teachers are educators and instructors at heart and possess a unique skillset that never leaves them – and we have proof!

Some of our very own team members at READ USA are former teachers who have leveraged the skills they’ve acquired after years in the classroom to close the literacy gap in our community. We are so grateful for their unique perspectives and contributions to READ USA’s multi-faceted programming and we want to recognize their commitment to the students of Duval County and beyond:

Dr. Rob Kelly, READ USA CEO

  • First and Fourth Grade Teacher, DCPS
  • Teacher of the Year at Bayview Elementary in 2007
  • Elementary School Literacy Coach, DCPS
  • District Literacy Specialist, DCPS
  • Senior Lecturer at The Ohio State University
  • Assistant Professor of Literacy at Queen’s College, NYC, and Jacksonville University

Tabetha  Cox, READ USA Chief Programs Officer

  • Pre-K and First Grade Teacher, Escambia County Public Schools
  • Kindergarten, Third, Fourth Grade Teacher, DCPS
  • Teacher of the Year at Sadie T. Tillis in 2018 and a top 5 finalist for Duval’s Teacher of the Year
  • Elementary School Literacy Coach
  • Collaborating Teacher (Mentor) to interns and college-level educators

Kathi Hart, READ USA Tutoring Program Content Specialist

  • Kindergarten and 4th grade Teacher, DCPS
  • Reading Recovery Teacher, DCPS
  • Elementary School Literacy Coach, DCPS
  • Elementary School Reading Interventionist, DCPS
  • District Literacy Specialist, DCPS
  • Teacher of the Year at Ruth N. Upson Elementary and Dinsmore Elementary
  • Retired after 40 years of service with DCPS

Holden Scyster, READ USA Data & Assessment Director

  • Middle School Math Teacher, DCPS
  • Teach for America Corps Member

We are so grateful for ALL teachers who work daily to improve the lives of their students, one lesson at a time. THANK YOU for all you do to uplift our children, our schools, and our society!


"Reading is fundamental to children and the role they play in society"

READ USA Book Fairs are going strong and we can still use your help! As of today, we have hosted STEM-focused Book Fairs at 61 of Duval County’s 102 public elementary schools and given two free books to nearly 30,000 students! We have two more weeks to visit all 102 schools, and our volunteers and supporters are essential to this effort!

Hear from one of our supporters about the impact and inspiration of READ USA Book Fairs:

When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she was so excited to participate in a READ USA Book Fair at her school! Just in time for summer, she was able to pick out free books to bring home, which thrilled her because she loves to read, but what also impressed me was the materials that came along with the free books. READ USA provides materials for both students and parents to help keep kids engaged in reading over the summer. I was so impressed that I shared them with my boss, who was equally impressed. 

My company and I are proud to be supporters of READ USA. READ USA does tremendous work in our community, not only for students, but for families as well, and it’s amazing to experience this as both a donor and a parent and see the full circle of this great work! Reading is fundamental to children and the role they play in society. My family and my professional colleagues alike are proud to support an organization like READ USA that is investing in our children’s and society’s future. 

-Susan, parent and donor

Sign up to volunteer today for a tremendously rewarding – and FUN! – experience at our Book Fairs! You can also select the school(s) you want to support.

Children’s Book: Shape Me A Rhyme: Nature’s Forms in Poetry, by

Jane YolenShapeMeBook_large


Photographs by Jason Stemple

In this unusual collection, poems and photographs focus on shapes in nature. Some shapes are found in familiar places: A circle is the sun and a crescent is the moon. But there are imaginative surprises too: an alligator's tooth is a triangle and a frond’s shadow forms a square. Related shape words—round, halo, sphere, etc.—are scattered throughout the spreads. This collaboration captures the beauty of shapes in nature in a playful way.

Writer Jane Yolen and photographer Jason Stemple continue their acclaimed series of poetry books in this collection focusing on shapes and forms found in nature. They uncover the beauty and variety of natural forms in twelve masterful poems and photographs. A circle? Look no farther than the sun. An oval? Eggs-actly inside a nest. A crescent? The moon provides an assortment to admire each month. Jane Yolen's well-crafted, elegant poems allow readers not only to look at shapes anew but to experience them on an emotional level. Jason Stemple's stunning photos unveil the symmetry of simple forms that are often overlooked.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Tutoring Program Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Bedtime is Book Time

Reading before bedtime allows children time to wind down from their busy day and creates a special bond between the child and parent.

Dr. Sarah Mitchell, founder of Helping Babies Sleep, gives tips on how to incorporate books into bedtime:

  • Read in the room where your child sleeps – Reading books at bedtime brings closure to your child’s day. If you read in another room and then move them to where they sleep, this can disrupt the bedtime routine.
  • Be intentional with how you read – Consider using a soft, slow tone to help your child relax more before bed.
  • Don’t overdo it – Reading at bedtime does not have to be long and tiring. Short and sweet is effective for young children. If your child is three to four-years-old, 10 to 20 minutes is a good guideline.
  • Set limits – For example, say “We are going to read 3 books and then it’s time to climb into bed.” Ask your child to repeat to you how many books you are going to read and what happens next. Wait for them to respond before you begin reading.
  • Make choices simple – One strategy is to have a small basket of bedtime books that can be switched out every two weeks. These should be books that are not too exciting or scary or long. Here are a few of our favorite bedtime books: Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown; Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen; Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker; and Listen, Listen, by Phillis Gershator.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Tutoring Program Content Specialist

Do you have any questions or ideas for the Parent Education Corner? Anything you’d like to learn? Let us know here!