EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green brought smiles to the faces of young children in the classrooms of Community Day Nursery on March 5, as he was welcomed as a guest reader for a Read Across America event.
The school participated in the National Education Association’s 2020 Read Across America, which ran from March 2 through March 6. The school had several guests throughout the week, who volunteered to come read to the children; guests included members of the Board of Trustees and the East Orange School District Department of Early Childhood, as well several of the children’s family members.
Mary Porcelli, director of Community Day Nursery, said it was exciting for the children to have so many guests read stories to them.
“We’ve been celebrating Read Across America this week by our own event, Read Across Community Day Nursery,” Porcelli said to the Record-Transcript during the event on March 5. “We’ve had members from the community and members from our board of trustees, parents, the mayor was here. So, it’s been really exciting to have the kids have all these visitors come in and read stories to them.”
Porcelli said the weeklong event had a wonderful turnout.
“It was great,” Porcelli said to the Record-Transcript. “The mayor is amazing. He is so funny — the kids just love him so. He did a great job. We were so happy to have him. We wish we could have him stay all day.”
Green was quite popular with the children he read to, making new friends and bumping into old friends along the way, who remembered him from his previous visits to the school. He said he thinks it’s a plus when the mayor and other people in the community come to read to young children.
“We are Reading Across Community Day Nursery,” Green said to the Record-Transcript during the event on March 5. “I read the book ‘Grumpy Bird’ to our young people here today. It was an interesting book. Really, this whole week has been outstanding. As a matter of fact, here in the city of East Orange … we visit all 22 schools, and here I am today at our local nursery community center, reading to our young people.
“I think it’s a plus when, not only the mayor, but other directors and other people in the community come out,” he continued. “This should not only be today, but really, it should be once a month that we have an opportunity to go and interact with our young people. We’re out here, reading across East Orange.”
When asked how he feels about the event, the mayor said he’s a huge advocate for young people.
“So, when it comes to our young people and we can come in and allow them to see who the leaders are,” he said to the Record-Transcript, “it’s an extremely positive thing. I remember when my kids attended this school, when they were younger, so this place is very special not only to me, but to my family as well, and we see the growth in our kids when they come out of here. I have plenty of friends whose kids are here.
“This place is like a pillar in the community and we’re very happy that they’re still here and still nurturing young people, but for me to come in, it’s second nature to me. I love working with the kids. I love working with everyone, but the kids are our foundation.”
Family Activities Coordinator Phyllis Johnson said that, with the social impact of electronics, the art of communication is suffering.
“Our school is participating in Read Across America, by celebrating Read Across Community Day Nursery, and we’re very excited about inviting parents and other members of the community to come in and read to our children,” Johnson told the Record-Transcript during the event on March 5. “I think it’s being lost with all of the electronics going on. We really need to read physical books and communicate with our children.
“I thought the event was great,” she continued. “I’m glad that the mayor came, because he, as well, knows how important reading is, as do all the other parents who came to help out with the children today. It’s very important.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman