Larissa McCoy-Mitti: The importance of reading
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.
iPad. Nook. Kindle. These tablets and other technological advances are changing the way our children are being educated. While the printed page might seem like a relic of the past, reading is no less an essential part of learning, a life skill that Florida students and teachers cannot do without.
Celebrate Literacy Week is a special time when Florida schools can reinforce the paramount importance of reading. Throughout the week of January 13, schools across our state will be gearing up for some fun, some learning and definitely some reading.
According to the nationwide assessment known as the Nation’s Report Card, the tireless work of Florida teachers has paid off –- our students have outperformed the national average in every subgroup. As a high school leader and former reading teacher, I am proud to support fellow educators in their efforts to advance literacy one classroom at a time.
By focusing on the importance of reading, Florida’s students have made great strides. In fact, the improvement in our students’ academic prowess and performance over the course of the last few years is unmatched. Since 2011, we are the only state to narrow the achievement gap in fourth and eighth grade reading and math between white and African American students. In fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading, academic improvement of Florida students is twice as high as the national average.
Before students can read to learn, they first must learn to read –- whether it’s through a traditional ink-on-paper book or the latest electronic marvel. This fundamental skill is the lifeblood of education, and there is no better time than the present to remind students and faculty alike of its vital importance.
I would like to close with a call to action that is simple, affordable and easy to accomplish. Read. Encourage your students to read. Go to a thrift store with a $10 bill and emerge with four or five books that can take you and your students to faraway places without ever leaving your classroom.
Celebrate Literacy Week is the perfect time to emphasize just how important reading is. The inside of a book is the perfect place to start your classroom’s next adventure.
Larissa McCoy-Mitti is the 2013 Florida High School Reading Leader of the Year. She is a graduate of The University of South Florida and is currently the assistant principal for curriculum at Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa.