This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

Principal Katie Adkins, 2024 Marjorie Broward Memorial Scholarship Award Honoree

  • Read USA Inc.
  • May 29 2024

Kathleen (Katie) Adkins has served as the Principal of the new Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School since it opened its doors for the first time this school year – and she is also our 2024 READ USA Marjorie Broward Memorial Scholarship Award Honoree!

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Named in honor of librarian Marjorie Broward, the READ USA Marjorie Broward Memorial Scholarship Award is presented to a school leader who exemplifies Marjorie’s commitment to service, community, and the common good. Marjorie established libraries all over the globe and, closer to home, initiated JAX READS and many other book-related projects during her 95 years on this earth, and we couldn’t think of a better person to reflect Marjorie’s commitment than Principal Adkins! The award, which will be presented at our upcoming Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran luncheon on Oct. 2, also comes with a $2,500 grant for Principal Adkins to purchase books for her school.

A Jacksonville native, Principal Adkins knew she wanted to become an educator when she was 12 years old at Mandarin Middle School. Miss Carson, her U.S. History teacher, made the subject so fun and interesting that, “I was captured,” Principal Adkins shared with Jeremy, READ USA’s fictional namesake storyteller of the Jeremy’s Journey book series, when her book was published earlier this year. “That got me into education, and I never looked back!”

Growing up, her parents encouraged servant leadership and good citizenship, which has stuck with her all her life. “You can’t lead others without wanting to serve them. It is important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and find out where they want to go and how fast they want to get there. Then, help them achieve their goals,” she told Jeremy. She has since dedicated her life and career to educating our community’s youth.

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Her professional journey began in 2002 where she taught 3rd- and 4th-grade students at Pickett Elementary School before serving as a reading coach. She then served as assistant principal at Carter G. Woodson before becoming principal of Sally B. Mathis Elementary and Reynolds Lane Elementary before heeding the call to lead the much-larger, brand-new Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary, which combined two former schools. “Learning how to combine three communities into one of cultural unity, making sure everybody knows everybody and I know them all…It’s a blessing in disguise,” Principal Adkins shared with Jeremy.

At Rutledge H. Pearson, Principal Adkins has led several innovative initiatives, including implementing the Ron Clark Academy House System – aimed at promoting cultural unity to help bring students and adults together – a STEM Lab, TEAM UP after-school activities, and a Robotics Club. She has also placed intentional focus on building positive relationships with teachers, families, students, and the broader community. And of course, Principal Adkins, as a former reading coach, has placed a strong emphasis on reading in her school to help her kids, “Be Good, Be Great!” which is her personal slogan.

“READ USA has been a part of Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School for two years now,” she shared. “Over that time, my students have grown confidence in reading and have experienced true success. When READ USA tutors arrive, my students are excited to see them every day. READ USA will always be a part of the Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary family.”

And we are immensely grateful to be a part of your family, Principal Adkins! Thank you for all that you do, day in and day out, to help your students succeed and become lifelong readers and learners!

You can read more about Principal Adkins by ordering her Jeremy’s Journey book for $20/copy from READ USA today!

We look forward to the 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran event on Oct. 2 at EverBank Stadium when Principal Adkins and our other award honorees will be recognized. Stay tuned for more Peace in the Pages award honoree features in the coming weeks!        

Honoring Late Philanthropist Roseann Duran at Mayport Elementary

Earlier this year, the late philanthropist Roseann Duran left a tremendous legacy gift to READ USA that will have an immeasurable impact on our work to ensure every student has the skills, confidence, and ability to be a lifelong reader and learner.

READ USA is honoring Roseann’s commitment to our mission through several naming acknowledgements, including the Duran Data Portal and the 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran luncheon, and has dedicated the 2024 Jeremy’s Journey book series to her. While we look forward to announcing more acknowledgements in honor of Roseann’s indelible impact on our community and READ USA soon, last week we had a special opportunity to recognize her at a place that was always near and dear to Roseann’s heart.

Roseann has been a past sponsor of the READ USA Book Fair at Mayport Elementary. Last week, a small group of Roseann’s close friends gathered during the Mayport Elementary Book Fair to remember our friend and the impact she has had on the community, particularly through her focus on children and education. In addition to being a READ USA supporter, Roseann has significantly supported Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Feeding Northeast Florida, and so many others over the years.

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Our heartfelt gratitude to Roseann’s friends who joined us at Mayport last week! Thank you for helping us continue to embrace Roseann’s incredible spirit and generosity in perpetuity.

Tutor Earns “Empowering Greatness” Scholarship

One of our very own READ USA Tutors, Lindsay Landais, has earned a scholarship that will pay for two years of college, and we are so proud of her!

Lindsay, whose essay about moving to the United States from Haiti won over the judges, was one of five high school graduates in Florida to receive an Empowering Greatness Scholarship from local law firm Farah & Farah. The scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, community engagement, and a submitted essay.

Lindsay has been a READ USA Tutor since the summer of 2023 at Westview PreK-8 School in southwest Jacksonville. She is a graduating senior at Ed White High School, and as the first person in her family to go to college, she plans to major in nursing with a minor in psychology. You can also watch a short WJXT Positively Jax segment of Lindsay accepting the scholarship at her school’s academic signing here.

Congratulations, Lindsay! We know you will continue to do amazing things in college and beyond!

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Photo submitted to Jax Today newsletter for “And a little bit of joy…” from Farah & Farah.         

Welcome to Duval, Dr. Bernier!

The READ USA team extends a warm and congratulatory welcome to Dr. Christopher Bernier, who last week was unanimously selected as the new Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools by the Duval County School Board!

Dr. Bernier

Dr. Bernier comes to Jacksonville from Lee County in southwest Florida where he served as Superintendent of the 100,000-student district since 2022.

“I’m excited to meet him and work arm in arm with him towards our literacy goal of every student reading on grade level,” our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly shared with our team. “READ USA has a strong, positive relationship with DCPS School Board members, the superintendent, and district administration in Duval – so strong, in fact, that we’ve been asked to join a consulting team to help other nonprofits build this model with other school boards.”

READ USA looks forward to working with Dr. Bernier, our School Board, and school leadership to continue our work to improve grade-level reading and create lifelong readers and learners! Our team shares DCPS Board Chair Darryl Willie’s message of unity that he mentioned during his vote, stating, “I want to make sure that the community sees us as unified. It sends a signal, and we need a signal right now.”

We are all in this together, Dr. Bernier, and we are excited for your arrival in Jacksonville!

You can read more about Dr. Bernier’s background on the DCPS website here.

Children’s Book: CICADA SYMPHONY by Sue Fliess

Illustrated by Gareth LucasCicada SYMPHONY

Eeee-ooo! Eeee-ooo! Cicadas drone on, clicking and buzzing from dusk till dawn.

There are about three thousand different kinds of cicadas on Earth. Some species emerge from the ground every year, while others only come up every 13 or 17 years. But no matter how much time passes before they dig their way to the surface, the result is up to trillions of clumsy (but harmless!) insects flying, clicking, and buzzing all around us. Using a combination of rhythmic, rhyming verse and fun facts, this story describes the life cycle of the cicada and helps readers better understand this fascinating insect.

The beginning pages of CICADA SYMPHONY present purply yellow nymphs waiting underground until they surface and molt. “A newly emerged adult cicada looks almost alien,” describes one straightforward snippet. Engaging rhymes elaborate:

“Plump cicada, milky-white,

gleams and glistens in the light.

Veins turn orange, soon complete.

Blue-black body. Clawlike feet.”

Sue Fleiss takes us through the cicada’s life cycle of feeding (and being fed on), flying, and mating until the cycle begins anew. The insects’ forms and beady red eyes fittingly fill the pages of Gareth Lucas’s bold artwork, which bursts with colorful illustrations and geometric layers. Conveying everything from the volume of males’ distinctive songs to the bugs’ innate clumsiness, Fliess informs the reader while maintaining a light, warm tone that reveals cicadas’ remarkableness.

For younger readers, the rhyming text is easy to follow. For older children, and those more interested in these fascinating insects, extra facts appear on each spread, and for those who want to learn even more, back matter includes a glossary, author’s note, list of children’s reference books, and a detailed illustration with labeled body parts.

Don’t be surprised if after reading this book, readers of all ages head outside to check out the cicadas!

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Types of Texts To Read

Helping Your Child Become a Reader

The Parent Education Corner is continuing to provide information to parents/caregivers about how you can help young learners become readers and writers.

Last week the topic was “How can I encourage my child to like reading.”

This week’s topic is: What kinds of texts should my child be reading?

  • Texts your child chooses:
    • Let your child have some choice in what to read – even if it is the same text(s) over and over again. We are all more interested in reading things that we like.
    • For children who are in the process of learning to read, the sense of fluency that comes with repeatedly reading the same text can be very encouraging.
  • Easy texts:
    • Provide lots of opportunities for children to read texts that are fairly easy for them. This can make reading more enjoyable and help to build motivation for reading.
      • When children are asked to read texts that are too hard, they can become frustrated and lose confidence.
      • Children’s teachers and librarians can help with selecting texts that are right for children’s current reading skills.
  • More challenging texts:
    • Sometimes children are so interested in a topic they may want to read something that is too challenging. For example, they might want to read about the life cycle and/or behaviors of a particular animal, how to get to the next level of a game, or how to assemble a toy.
      • When a text is too challenging, parents can provide support by reading the more challenging parts out loud with children. Parents can also read the text first and then listen to their child read it.
      • Providing an appropriate level of support can help your child see the importance and benefits of reading to learn and keep them motivated to read.
  • Dictated stories:
    • Many children enjoy telling stories or composing messages that someone else writes for them (or types on a computer or phone). These stories sometimes become long and involved and often include the child as a main character (for example, as the star of a sporting event or as the subject of an adventure story or fantasy).
    • Often children can read these stories even though they contain many words they might not otherwise be able to identify – especially when they have multiple opportunities to read them (with assistance).
    • Stories children have created are easier for them to read because they already know the storyline. After all, the child is the author and so has a sense of what words to expect.
    • Children who enjoy writing/dictating stories will often enjoy reading them over and over to family members and friends. The more reading children do, the easier and more fluent reading becomes and the more your child will enjoy reading!

Stay tuned for more information next week!

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

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