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States first lady visits RES
first lady 1
Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal shares the lessons in the book Who Id Like To Be during her visit to Rincon Elementary. Each pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade class received a copy of the book. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

The youngest students at Rincon Elementary School enjoyed a visit Friday from Georgia first lady Sandra Deal.

Deal read a book to pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students as part of her Read Across Georgia initiative. She is visiting schools across the state in support of Gov. Nathan Deal’s goal to increase the percentage of children reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

A former teacher, Deal described her school visits as "like throwing Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch. I have had a wonderful time. I just love seeing the children learn and seeing the teachers interact with them and seeing what people do to encourage reading and encourage the children to love their schools."

As she read the book "Who I’d Like To Be," Deal asked several RES students what they would like to do when they grow up. She told the children they will need to be strong readers for whatever type of career they pursue.

"They do need those reading skills because that sets them up for a lifetime of success," Deal said. "By focusing our efforts on our youngest learners, we have the ability to teach them crucial skills that lay the ground work for all their future academic and career endeavors."

In the governor’s State of the State address earlier this year, he said that children who cannot read at grade level by the time they finish the third grade are more likely to drop out of school and have higher unemployment rates later in life.

With that in mind, the first lady urged the students not to wait until they are in first or second grade to learn to read. She also encouraged parents to be actively involved, by mentoring students or reading stories aloud to young children to improve reading and literacy skills.

"Children are exposed to so much (technology and information) so young that they need to be reading when they are in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten and then move on with greater skills," she said. "If they are not prepared by third grade, then they need some intervention, they need somebody to really work with them."

The first lady’s goal is to visit a school in every school district in the state over the next three years of Gov. Deal’s term in office.