On Friday, Feb. 10, Hawthorne Elementary School was one of the many Madison-area schools that celebrated Read Your Heart Out Day, the annual event that uses family engagement for building parent-school partnerships to enhance student learning.
Organizer and founder Michelle Belnavis hopes that Read Your Heart Out helps to build up the comfort level for African-American parents to become more involved in their children’s school. The event also helps to establish a foundation for teachers and parents to help their children succeed academically.
“There were over 60 adults and high school students volunteering to read to the individual classrooms at Hawthorne. The readers were parents and siblings of the Hawthorne students as well as community members,” Belnavis tells Madison365. “Many of them have been volunteering to read for the past several years and intend to come again. The books were chosen by the readers to share different cultures and role models with the students. Hawthorne Principal Beth Lehman, her staff and students are very proud of their school and have every right to be. From the morning sing along, the talent show, to the art on the walls – the students’ individual gifts were on display everywhere. I congratulate the staff and volunteers at Hawthorne for a job well done.”
Now at 25 different schools in three cities, Belnavis started Read Your Heart Out at Midvale Elementary School back in 2004 on Madison’s west side. The idea was to recruit African-American family members and community members as readers to read to young people to build positive family, community, and school relationships.
Other Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) schools that participated in Read Your Heart Out on Feb. 10 included Allis, Hawthorne, Kennedy, Lakeview, Lapham, Leopold, Lowell, Mendota, Midvale, Muir, Schenk and Stephens Elementary Schools in Madison. Merrill Elementary School in Beloit also participated.
“Students were able to connect to the stories by making crafts or having time for questions and answers with the reader at Read Your Heart Out, too,” Belnavis says. “The students were also encouraged to ask the readers about their jobs and experiences. This gave the students the opportunity to learn more about the local possibilities and to discover local role models.”
Falk and Huegel Schools in Madison and Westside Elementary School in Sun Prairie will be hosting Read Your Heart Out on this coming Friday, Feb. 17. Glendale will host the Read Your Heart Out event in Madison on Friday, Feb. 24. Hackett Elementary School in Beloit has already hosted the event on Friday, Feb. 3 and it was a huge success.