Mississippi College

MC Professors and Choctaws Football Players Team Up as Dr. Seuss Readers

March 1, 2013

Part of the Read Across America blitz, Mississippi College football players, education students and professors served as Dr. Seuss readers to local elementary school youngsters Friday morning.

After getting treated to breakfast and a warm welcome from Dr. Seuss characters like Thing One and Thing Two, Coach Norman Joseph, his assistant coaches and Choctaws players tackled their reading assignment with a burst of energy. The kids loved every minute.

The MC coaches and players say they always enjoy giving back to the community, and it showed during their visit at Clinton Park Elementary School.

Returning to the Clinton school to be part of the nationwide reading celebration was a delightful experience for MC education professor Tommye Henderson, former superintendent of the award-winning district.

Whether the books are classics like “The Cat in the Hat” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’’ Henderson is a big Dr. Seuss fan. She first became a Dr. Seuss reader as an undergraduate education major at the University of Southern Mississippi during a class in children’s literature.

“I believe he (Dr. Seuss) is one of history’s great philosophers,” Henderson said. “Even though his books target a younger audience, his words of wisdom can be applied in adult situations.”

An example of making a difference, she said, comes from his book “The Lorax.” Henderson quoted a passage that says: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Henderson’s ability to connect with young children and get them excited about what they are hearing in the classroom was obvious from their response at Clinton Park. And the MC professor was overjoyed with their positive feedback. “Where else can you go to get a standing ovation, hugs galore, a hand-crafted thank-you card and a cookie?”

The Clinton resident read the Dr. Seuss book “It’s a Great Day for Up” and it certainly was that kind of day for Henderson. “I left feeling uplifted and appreciated. The kids did more for me than I did for them.’’

One of her MC education colleagues, professor Ruthie Stevenson, also was a big hit as she read “The Foot Book,” and one other Seuss classic.

Stevenson felt honored to be a reader for first graders at Donna Robbins’ class at Clinton Park Elementary on Arrow Drive.

“For me, there is nothing like participating in Read Across America Day,” Stevenson said. “It provides the opportunity for me to re-visit Dr. Seuss and enjoy the excitement and enthusiasm of students.”

Although the people invited to read to the kids are called “celebrity readers,” Stevenson said the “real celebrities are the administrators, teachers and parents.”

Other leaders in town serving as Dr. Seuss readers at Clinton Park Elementary included Clinton Mayor Rosemary Aultman, artist Wyatt Waters and Clinton Courier publisher Clay Mansell. Waters and Mansell are both Mississippi College graduates.

Across the nation, the 16th annual event sponsored by the National Education Association attracted such well-known readers as actress Uma Thurman, an Academy Award nominee, and actor Jake T. Austin of ABC Family’s “The Fosters.” Read Across America reaches about 45 million children every year, from schools to libraries.

The Mississippi College School of Education was all over the event in Hinds County. Elementary education majors and Kappa Delta Pi members from the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership filled 42 reading slots Friday at Clinton’s Eastside Elementary. On the same say, there were 24 MC education students reading at two Jackson Public Schools campuses. Others on the MC education faculty read at Northside Elementary in Clinton.

“We are quite excited to be part of such a fun event at our local schools,” says Cindy Melton, who chairs the Teacher Education and Leadership Department at her alma mater, Mississippi College.

Photo: Education Professor Tommye Henderson flanked by Thing One and Thing Two. Henderson served as one of the Dr. Seuss readers Friday at Clinton Park Elementary School.

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