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First lady of Georgia visits Dawson County
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First Lady Deal

Riverview Elementary pre-k and kindergarten students had a special story time on Friday.

Thats because Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal did the reading. Deal has read in all 159 counties of the state as part of her Read Across Georgia initiative.

Deal read the students a poem titled Learning to Read, which was written by none other than Gov. Nathan Deal. She also a book titled Who Id Like to Be.

I just love going out and reading to the children, Deal said. As a retired teacher, I love being in the schools. This gives me an opportunity to interact and maybe make a difference, and thats what Im trying to do.

Deal comes from a family of schoolteachers. Her parents taught in Dawson County briefly in the 1960s. They were teaching here when the school burned, she said. She was referring to the Old Rock School house that burned in 1962.

In fact, Sandra Deals father taught in a school bus after the school burned. He never complained, Deal said Dr. Herbert Robinson told her after her father died.

Deal began the Read Across Georgia initiative after hearing statistics that shocked her. When we came into office, some of the statistics came out that they could predict how many prison beds they needed to build by how well children were on a third-grade level (reading) when they were in third grade.

So she set out on a mission to start reading to young children, hoping to get them excited about books. We have to encourage children to want to learn to read and to be excited and eager, she said. I like to try to introduce it and help it to be fun.

Deal especially likes to encourage reading during March, which is recognized as Read Across Georgia Month. For more information you may visit www.nea.org/grants/886.htm.

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