Friday, March 3, 2017

Employees encourage a love of reading

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child,” according to the National Education Association, the organization behind Read Across America Day – a national holiday celebrated in schools all over the country.

Twelve We Energies employees took this to heart and spent the morning of March 2 – Dr. Seuss’s birthday – reading to students at West Ridge Elementary in Racine.

West Ridge has been celebrating Seuss’s birthday all week with special activities, dress-up days and even a birthday cake in his honor. Bringing in We Energies volunteers was a big part of this celebration, explained Julianna Mielcarek, a reading teacher at the school.

“It’s important to get books in our students’ hands. And if they can’t get books at home, they can definitely get books at school through events like this,” she explained, wearing a large “Cat in the Hat”-style hat as she coordinated the morning’s activities.

Dave Megna helped first-grade students re-create 
the animal they'd read about.
West Ridge Elementary was grateful to have a We Energies connection. Candy Zicarelli, senior training consultant – gas operations, has both a sister and a granddaughter who are teachers at West Ridge. Zicarelli volunteered in order to share her love of reading with kids. “It’s good when kids can read and have someone read to them. This has been a really good opportunity, and I’m glad I was able to do it,” she said.

Dawn Dresen’s first-grade class listened as Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin system operations and customer operations, read “Put Me in the Zoo.” The students complimented his “storyteller voice,” something they are learning to develop in Dresen’s class. After some clever guesses as to the kind of animal featured in the story – ranging from leopard to dog to bear to fox – the students cut out yellow animal faces and covered them with spots. With their masterpieces completed, they started on a math skills worksheet that involved counting up those colorful spots. Megna and Joan Gilson, specialist – electric operations, encouraged the students and helped them with these tasks. “It’s a fun activity to be able to give back to the community and be part of Dr. Seuss’s 113th birthday,” Megna said.
Joan Gilson and a class of third-graders played with Oobleck.
The volunteers also assisted with coloring, drawing zoo animals, critical thinking and writing, math and mapmaking. Each activity paired with a Dr. Seuss book the classes read. For example, the class that read “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” played with some Oobleck – a slime-like substance – of their own. Third-grade students who read “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” wrote about the places they hope to go in the future.

Volunteers represented We Energies in their orange shirts.
Teachers and volunteers alike noted that reading is fundamental to the students’ futures and were excited to celebrate its importance. 

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