Commissioner Kicks Off Orange County Head Start’s Guest Readers Month
Orange County District 6 Commissioner Michael Scott served as the opening reader for Orange County Head Start’s 2023 Guest Readers Month, formally kicking off the annual campaign that encourages early childhood literacy. Orange County Head Start is Central Florida’s largest early childhood education program for low-income youth and families.
Scott, a former Head Start student, spent a morning with more than 60 students at the Lila Mitchell Center, one of six Head Start centers within District 6. In addition to reading children’s books, he shared his personal experiences with the students, many of their parents and more than a dozen Head Start staffers and County officials.
“We were honored to have Commissioner Scott as our opening reader,” said Sonya Hill, director, Orange County Head Start. “He has such an electric and energetic personality, which resonated with the children and speaks to the very spirit of this campaign.”
Hill added that enjoying the experience of reading is just as important as knowing how to read. “Through Guest Readers Month, we attempt to instill a genuine love for literacy that hopefully will last a lifetime.”
Following Scott’s classroom appearance, the I.S. Hankins-F.A. Johnson Education Foundation and the Delta Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Orlando’s alumni chapter of that fraternity) donated more than 300 books to the Lila Mitchell Center, starting a new book-lending program there. Members of the fraternity also provided their own individual reading sessions within each of the Center’s classrooms.
April is Guest Readers Month for all Orange County Head Start centers. For more than 25 years, guest-reader volunteers have been welcomed into County classrooms to read to the children, and they have spanned a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds, including elected officials, professional athletes and everyday Central Floridians.
“We welcome guest readers from all walks of life,” affirmed Hill. “Our only real requirement of them is a genuine desire to see our kids learn and grow, displaying the same level of caring for our youth that Commissioner Scott and the Alphas showed here today.”
For 2023, Hill has set an ambitious goal of having 500 guest-reader volunteers visit the County’s 22 Head Start centers, which would set a record for Orange County.
Residents interested in becoming a guest-reader volunteer can call 407-836-6590.
Photo Caption: Orange County District 6 Commissioner Michael Scott reads to Head Start students at Lila Mitchell Center during Guest Readers Month to support early childhood literacy.