Between February 20 and 23, a series of special guests visited several PHLpreK classrooms to read to them. PHLpreK created “Reading MENtor Week” to promote in-school interactions between students and male professionals at some of the City’s PHLpreK programs.
“Generally speaking, the people that are in ECE (Early Childhood Education) classrooms are women,” said Danielle Taylor, the parent engagement coordinator for PHLpreK. “Our team thought that Reading MENtor Week would be the perfect way to introduce some male role models to PHLpreK students.”
This effort was supported by City departments including the Office of Black Male Engagement and the Mayor’s Office of Education, which both sent volunteers to read to pre-K students. Some of the Community School coordinators even took time out of their busy schedules to support the PHLpreK project!
Each volunteer spent about half an hour reading to students at one of six PHLpreK programs, including The Children’s Learning Institute, Montgomery Early Learning Center, Heavenly Day Care Center, Catholic Social Services Casa Del Carmen, The Children’s Place Preschool – Longshore, and Tonya R. Sears. The PHLpreK programs that participated in the week were chosen because they had recently improved their state-designated STARS quality rating.
Danielle said that both the students and the male volunteers had a great time reading. Students loved listening to books like “I Love My Hair” and “If I Ran for President,” and were eager to ask questions. Some students even started dancing like the characters in the book, Danielle said.
Danielle added that this week was just the beginning of an effort to get more men into ECE classrooms. Given the success of the week’s events, Danielle will try to recruit more volunteers and bring this type of programming to even more students in the future.