JFA role-model readers

Role-Model Readers
Posted on 02/27/2014
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Salem City students learn about black history from role-model readers

SALEM — Students from the John Fenwick Academy got some valuable lessons in black history, as prominent members of the local community visited classrooms Wednesday to read and celebrate Black History Month.

The prominent black men from the local community who read to the students included mayors, reverends, teachers and others who were there to serve as positive role models for students at the school.

“We purposely choose prominent men from a variety of professions in order to give the students, especially our young black males, an opportunity to connect to a positive vision of their future,” school counselor Karen C. Wright said.

Just as important, Wright said, were the stories about African American History that included lessons about courage, responsibility, trust and overcoming obstacles.

Salem City Councilman Vaughn Groce, after his first year as a reader, said the experience was great, and thought it was important to provide positive role models for the students.

“It’s great to show them that people out in the community actually care,” he said. “We’re not just telling them to go to school and get the grades... we’re actually making time for them.”

The students were big fans of the program as well. The pre-school kids ran to the readers once the stories were over to give them a big hug. One said that having guest readers was always a nice treat.

Gregory Wright, vice-principal at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology, said the best part about the program was reaching students from all different kinds of backgrounds.

“It’s great to give them an idea of what black history means and what it represents,” he said. “We get to teach them about the people who paved the way for us to get here, not just them, but me and for all of the people to be in the positions they’re in now.”

Jerry Oglesby has been a reader at the event for about five years, and said it was great to see the young children react so well to the men who came in to read and the stories they told.

“I just enjoy them being excited about learning black history,” he said. “Black history needs to be shared among all students, not just African-Americans... I think when children at a younger age begin to learn their history, they begin to learn who they are and how they’ve come to be. They have a foundation to grow and be proud of their heritage.”

By Alex Young/South Jersey Times 
on February 27, 2014