Photos by Jeylin White
Mt. Zion Primary first graders Jessica Carrington, Andrew Reives, and Michael Irons got to have a one-on-one with Hollywood Actress Ellia English.
“You all must listen, read, study, and stay in school” — words of wisdom from actress Ellia English, who visited Mt. Zion Primary School early this week to promote her literacy tour.
“I just have a passion for children and if we don’t teach them, then who will?” said English.
Youngsters encompassing all grade levels packed the school’s amphitheater on a sunny Wednesday afternoon to hear the Georgia native plant in their minds the importance of reading and education.
“Reading is the most important part of your education, it’s what will help you in your future careers,” the petite actress told the elementary students. “You must also work hard on your homework at home — OK?”
“OK!” the students yelled.
With a smile that stretched from ear to ear, English replied to the students, “I’m just loving you all.”
One student yelled out, “We love you, too!”
English, 52, is best known for her role as “Aunt Helen” to Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx’s “Jamie King” on “The Jamie Foxx Show.” However, the young scholars know her better as “Mary Lou Wentz” on the Disney Channel sitcom “Good Luck Charlie.”
“Actors and entertainers are a big influence and it’s so exciting for English to come out and help out with our county-wide initiative,” said the school’s principal, Enika Bryant.
English’s visit to Clayton County is a result of her younger sister, Katrina, who is the ESOL teacher at Mt. Zion Primary.
“I have a lot of ties to Clayton, both my sisters are teachers and I thought this would be a perfect start for me to launch my literacy tours,” said English. She added her plans are to travel throughout the state of Georgia and the United States — something she said she has always wanted to do.
“I’m from Georgia and before I take my tour anywhere else, I needed to start at home first,” she said.
During her presentation, she told the students her favorite book is the Bible. Her favorite verse is Philippians 4:16, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
“That means he can gives you strength to do anything,” she announced to the students.
First-graders Jessica Carrington, Andrew Reives, and Michael Irons had the pleasure to have a one-on-one with the actress. They all agreed the central message from English was to read, read, read.
“I read in the morning and before I go to bed at night,” said a shy, brown-eyed Carrington.
“My favorite book to read is ‘The Lorax,’ ” said Irons.
“Um — I think I will have to go with ‘Cat In The Hat,’ ” said Reives.
Before departing, as a special treat, English performed an original song of inspiration with her group called SSAOB Singers. The Rhythm and Blues and Gospel group is made up of her sisters Katrina, Daisy, Nicole English-Wesley, and her brother-in-law Leroy Wesley.
The students clapped and waved their hands from side-to-side in the air, swayed to the music, and some even got up and wiggled to the beat.
Once the song ended, English peered out to the crowd with a warm smile, “Believe in yourself, because I believe in you,” were her parting words to the Mt. Zion Primary class.
Students gave the actress a standing ovation.