ISSUED: 2 March 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Costa
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s School of Education and Office for Diversity and Equity are partnering with several campus and community organizations on a major reading initiative to address the education gap in Jefferson County created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The kickoff for “Empowering Community Through Reading” is scheduled for Thursday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall auditorium and will be livestreamed on Zoom.
During the kickoff event, guest speaker Ronald Jones, founder and principal consultant of leadership facilitation company DareIILead (pronounced Dare to Lead), and the project team will honor Jefferson County Magistrate Arthena Roper and Wright Denny Elementary School third grader Anyé Polite for their accomplishments in education and literacy leadership.
Roper is the first African American to take the judicial bench as a magistrate in Jefferson County and has worked to advance literacy and equity goals in West Virginia and Jefferson County over the past 30 years through her roles in WVU Extension Services, Jefferson County Schools, Jefferson County Board of Education, and as founder of the 44 College Ready Foundation, Inc.
Roper will be recognized for her leadership in the community and for publishing three children’s books, “The Adventures of Smart Boys,” “Smart Girls Rock” and “Smart Kids Rock.” As part of this reading initiative, all 601 second graders in Jefferson County will receive a copy of “Smart Kids Rock.”
Anyé Polite will be recognized and celebrated for reading more than 100 books in the spring and summer of 2021. Polite will receive a signed set of Roper’s books and will read a selection from her favorite book to commemorate the event’s theme.
Other events for this initiative include a virtual mini conference titled “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Reading Readiness” for Jefferson County teachers and Shepherd University education students on March 21 and a book delivery to second graders in Jefferson County with volunteers going into classrooms to facilitate reading workshops.
“Empowering Community Through Reading” is a partnership between Shepherd University’s School of Education, Office for Diversity and Equity, Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, WISE Empowerment student leaders, Shepherd University President’s Club, Jefferson County Schools, Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communication’s ListenLearnEngage Initiative, Jefferson Security Bank, and Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
For more information and to access the Zoom link, visit the Office of Diversity and Equity Current Initiatives web page.
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