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June Atkinson is ‘Royal Reader’ at Western Union Elementary School

North Carolina State Superintendent June Atkinson greets students in Jennifer Bittner's fourth-grade class at Western Union Elementary School.

 Fourth graders at Western Union Elementary had an opportunity to visit with North Carolina State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson May 22, 2013 when she traveled from Raleigh to visit their classroom.

Jennifer Bittner, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, invited Dr. Atkinson to be one of her Royal Readers, special guests who come into her classroom to read to her students. This was the second time Dr. Atkinson accepted that invitation.

“We’re ecstatic to have her return to our school,” said Western Union Elementary Principal Rita Webb. “Her first visit inspired our kids to broaden their horizons and seek out new and different avenues, things to do that was beyond what they were familiar with. Dr. Atkinson is a woman who used to teach and still has that passion for teaching.”

Dr. Atkinson talked with students for a while and then read to them from a book she wrote, “The T-shirt Named Zee,” which addresses determination and resilience in an elementary school setting.

After finishing the book, Atkinson answered students’ questions. “What’s your favorite book?” asked one student. “My favorite children’s book is ‘The Secret Garden.’ I love that book. I read it in the fourth grade.”

When you were a kid, what job did you want to do?” asked another fourth-grader. “When I was in the sixth grade, I said I wanted to be the president of the United States, but I don’t think I would want that job now. Then I wanted to be a teacher.”

“What’s your favorite part of your job,” asked another student. “By far, my favorite part of this job is coming to schools and classes such as this,” she said. “And I’ll tell you a secret. Western Union Elementary is one of my favorite schools in the state.”

This is the second visit Dr. Atkinson has made to Bittner’s class at Western Union. She came as a guest reader last year. Then Bittner took Dr. Atkinson up on her initiation to bring her students on a field trip to Raleigh.

Once there, Dr. Atkinson showed students first-hand how government works on a state level. “She told us about what she does, how she operates and how it involves all the schools in North Carolina,” said Western Union Elementary Principal Rita Webb. “Then she had a mock board meeting.”

After reading her book, Dr. Atkinson talked with students about that visit. “You were one of the most impressive groups of school students I’ve ever seen,” she told them. “You were so polite and mannerly. Not only were you polite to the adults, you were also polite to each other. When you had a discussion about how to improve education in North Carolina, you came up with an excellent idea in about 10 minutes.”

She said that idea was that any student from kindergarten through grade 12 should be able to take any world language, including Spanish and Chinese.

After saying good-bye to the students, Dr. Atkinson said she thinks visits to schools around the state are important.

“I enjoy visiting schools because I see students, even here at the end of the school year, excited about learning,” Dr. Atkinson said. “It’s important for the adults in this state to support the learning of all of the children we have in our public schools. If all adults in our state, who made decision about children, could come to schools such as Western Union, then I believe they would have a different attitude about the importance of funding public schools first.”

-- Originally posted May 31, 2013

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 28, 2013 by Debra Bledsoe

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