VMI Track and Field Lends a Hand in \"Read Across America Day\"

Three cadets take time to read to children at Effinger Elementary School

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. -- Nearly 45 million people nationwide took part in the ninth annual National Education Association's (NEA) Read Across America Day on March 2, 2006. In New Orleans, celebrities, athletes, politicians and educational leaders gathered in the city to share the benefits of reading with children affected by the hurricanes. And close to home, members of the VMI track and field team visited Effinger Elementary School in Rockbridge County to do their part in promoting the great cause.

\"It was an honor to take part in Read Across America Day,\" said head cross country coach Paul Spangler. \"It gave our cadets the opportunity to not only read to kids, but also speak to them about the importance of education and obtaining good grades.\"

VMI cadets Matt Hyatt (Burke, Va./Robinson Secondary), Kelsey Stafford (Charlottesville, Va./Western Albermarle) and Ashley West (Miami, Fl./Northwestern) accompanied Spangler to Effinger Elementary School last week to take part in the annual celebration, and to spend time reading to a group of young students. The kids attending were from Kindergarten all the way up to the fifth grade, and enjoyed having the student-athletes there with them.

\"Reading to the kids at Effinger was a great way to help out the community and hopefully teach how important and necessary reading is,\" added freshman track member Matt Hyatt. \"I hope we were able to convince these kids on how important being able to read and do it well, will be in their education.\"

Read Across America was founded in 1997 by the NEA, and originally was a one-day event to celebrate the joy of reading. The day would be set for March 2, to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the late children\'s-book author and artist beloved by millions. Today, however, the program has expanded from a one-day celebration to an everyday, nationwide initiative that promotes and motivates children to read.

Motivating children to read at a young age is something that the NEA strives to do through its programs, and is a building block in creating lifelong successful leaders. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

Read Across America is just one of several educational initiatives that the Washington, D.C. based organization institutes. American Education Week, Back-to-School, National Teacher Day, and the newly established Books Across America are some of the programs that contribute to the NEA\'s mission of advancing the cause of public education. The NEA has more than 2.7 million members, affiliate organizations in every state, as well as in more than 14,000 local communities across the United States.