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First lady champions literacy work

Pence urges reading to children


– Indiana first lady Karen Pence celebrated a local literacy program by reading to it.

“If you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it,” Pence read Wednesday from Laura Numeroff’s children’s book “If You Give a Pig a Pancake.”

After finishing the illustrated book, Pence read Robert Frost’s poem “Last Words of a Bluebird” and a passage from Mark Helprin’s “A Soldier of the Great War,” which she called her favorite book for adults.

“I hope by reading little snippets to you today, I inspire you to read more to your students,” she told her grown-up audience. “I wanted to take you back to when you were a child and somebody was reading to you.”

The wife of Gov. Mike Pence was the keynote speaker at the Project READS Champions for Children’s Education Awards Breakfast. About 150 people attended the program at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center.

Project READS, a program of Allen County Education Partnership, helps students read at grade level by the completion of third grade.

A former elementary school teacher, Karen Pence said she read to her own three children before every nap and at bedtime when they were young.

“I hope you still have time in your modern, busy classrooms to read each day to your students,” she said to elementary school teachers in the audience. “I believe it does more than anything else to teach them to love to read and desire to be better readers.”

Debbie Branfield, president of the Project READS board of directors, gave Pence a children’s dictionary and a “star reader” award and made her an honorary graduate of the program.

Pence said she had to leave the breakfast early to visit classes at Adams Central Elementary School in Monroe.

Project READS also displayed Pence’s art Wednesday. A watercolor she painted of the Statehouse was among several works in an “artists of reading gallery.”

Announced at Wednesday’s program as NBC33 Excellence in Education Award winners were Amy Brown, Arlington Elementary; Linda Shafer, Adams Elementary; Rachael Johnson, Suburban Bethlehem Lutheran School; Genia Kottkamp, Covington Elementary; Lori Sumner, Holland Elementary; Gene Guthrie, Blackhawk Christian School; Nicole Veit, Waterloo Elementary; and Amy Bruney, Fremont Elementary.