President Martin to read in Spanish, English to Washington Elementary after-school students

Underlining the importance of bilingual education, Fort Hays State University President Mirta M. Martin will connect with elementary school students Tuesday afternoon, reading to them in Spanish and English.

A highlight of the FHSU Department of Teacher Education's Read4Respect Program, the event will get underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Washington Elementary School, 305 Main.

In addition to reading to the after-school program students, Dr. Martin will address the students' families, many of which are non-English speaking, sharing her own experiences as an immigrant to the United States.

Made possible by an $18,000 Kansas Health Foundation Recognition grant, the teacher education program is designed as a service-learning project for the prevention of bullying. Funds from the grant provide books designed to teach empathy and respect for the students and to implement reading strategies.

"So many people have had a hand in the project," said Dr. Valerie Zelenka, project director. "And to have Dr. Martin share her story Tuesday will impact so many families. It's even possible that Dr. Martin's successor could be one of the non-English speaking kindergartners there."

In addition to the reading time, the after-school students will receive new books and book shelves made by FHSU's Institute of Applied Technology students and Eric Deneault, assistant professor of applied technology.

A drawing for Thanksgiving packages also will be held. Turkeys for the packages will be purchased by Kappa Delta Pi, teacher education honor society.

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