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Educators, children's reading celebrated this week

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

There are more than 8,000 Clayton County school staffers, including teachers, principals, counselors, cafeteria workers and janitors.

All of them will be honored this week during the National Education Association's 86th annual observance of American Education Week.

Sid Chapman, the president of the Clayton County Educators Association, said American Education Week is different from Teacher Appreciation Week; it is more inclusive.

"We are also encouraging all principals to recognize their staff and support personnel during this week," Chapman said.

"The No Child Left Behind Act has certainly made things more challenging for educators, because of the higher expectations and mountains of paperwork, which are involved," Chapman said. "Other issues include administrative support and discipline in the schools."

While American Education Week is celebrated this week, the Children's Book Council's 88th annual Children's Book Week is going on at the same time. One celebrates the people who make sure children are getting an education, while the other celebrates the tools, which can help a child begin his or her educational journey.

The Clayton County Educators Association, whose membership includes 2,600 educators in the county, will host a social gathering at Buffalos, 795 North Ave., Jonesboro, on Tuesday, from 4:30 p.m., to 8 p.m., for all educators in the county. The organization also is inviting educators, and members of the public, to Barnes and Noble Booksellers on 1939 Mt. Zion Road, Jonesboro, on Thursday evening, where people can have books bought for the Lewis Academy of Excellence in their name.

The public libraries in Clayton County, meanwhile, encourage more reading by children this week. The Clayton County library system's headquarters branch, 865 Battlecreek Road., Jonesboro, will host Al Waller's Animation and Puppetry Program from 7-7:45 p.m., on Tuesday. It will also host a music and movement program from 2-3 p.m., on Saturday.

The branch also is trying to encourage children, ages 9 to 13, to become "reading buddies" with younger children.

The older children will read to the younger ones. The idea is the older children will help the young children improve their reading skills by having them read together.

Diane Flores, the library system's youth services assistant, said several older children signed up to be reading buddies, but only one child has been signed up to be read to. She added that children can sign up for the program throughout the week.

In addition to what is going on at the headquarters branch, the Morrow branch, located at 6225 Maddox Road., will hold "Sharing Family Stories" from 3-5 p.m., on Saturday.

Flores said its important to teach reading skills to children as early as possible, because they will take those skills with them throughout their lives. She also said the biggest obstacles to teaching reading skills are TV, and computer games.

"They [children] are so involved with that, sometimes they forget about the books," Flores said.