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Appalachian, Kentucky Power celebrate reading at Read to Me Day events

by on November 25, 2013
Engineer Mark Booth reads “Silver Packages” to students at Prichard Elementary School in Wayne County, W.Va., one of 419 schools where Appalachian Power employees read to students on Read to Me Day.

(Story by Allison Barker and Ronn Robinson)

Appalachian Power Company and Kentucky Power Company particpated in annual Read to Me Day events last week across their respective territories, reading to thousands of children in hundreds of schools.

Appalachian Power Read to Me Day

Nearly 315 Appalachian employees and retirees participated in Read to Me Day by reading to elementary students in Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia Nov. 21. This year’s reading selection was “Silver Packages,” by West Virginia native Cynthia Rylant.

In 2001, Jon Atchley was one of the first Appalachian Power employees to sign up to participate in the West Virginia Library Commission’s annual Read to Me Day. Twelve years later, the annual event has become one of Appalachian Power’s most popular community involvement projects, and Atchley, despite his now-limited vision, remains one of its biggest supporters. He was among the employees and retirees volunteering to read aloud at 419 schools.

“I take my wife with me in case I have trouble reading,” said Atchley, who retired four years ago after 30 years with the company. “I enjoy all their little faces and their enthusiasm. The children make it worthwhile. I look forward to it every year.”

This year at each of the schools, volunteers read “Silver Packages” and then donated the book to the school’s library, increasing the library’s collection and giving the students a chance to check the book out on their own.

“Silver Packages” features the spirit of giving during the holiday season in Appalachia. Rylant, who grew up in Raleigh County, W.Va., draws on her memories of growing up in West Virginia for “Silver Packages” and her other books.

“Read to Me Day allows Appalachian Power employees and retirees the opportunity to encourage students to read and enjoy reading,” said [Charles Patton], Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer. “While several of our employees read aloud in classrooms throughout the year, participating on this day allows us to model how much we value reading and its importance for the future success of our children, our communities and our company.”

Appalachian Power began its Read to Me Day program in West Virginia in 2001, and expanded to Virginia and Tennessee two years ago. Since that first day in 2001, Appalachian Power has donated more than 4,400 books to school libraries and read aloud to nearly 200,000 students.

This year’s reading selection for Appalachian Power’s Read to Me Day was “Silver Packages” by West Virginia native Cynthia Rylant. 

Alan Bragg, manager of customer services in West Virginia, was among a group of employees who helped organize the first Read to Me Day and continues to assist with recruiting readers to participate.

“It is the most fun day all year long,” Bragg said. “Plus, as a public utility, we need and want to give back to the communities we serve. Read to Me Day allows us to show our human side, so when people in the community see our employees, they can identify with them rather than just a company emblem on the side of a big truck.”

Read to Me Day allows employees and retirees to share the gift of reading with students and to encourage them to make reading a major part of their education and life. There is no cost to schools to participate. The volunteers also answer student questions about electricity and electrical safety.

”Read to Me Day gives us a chance to connect with our area schools and students, but more importantly, it helps us highlight the benefits of literacy for all of us,” Patton said. “We are humbled that so many schools and teachers have welcomed us into their classrooms.” 

Kentucky Power Read to Me Day

The joy and importance of reading was stressed to elementary school students in Boyd, Knott, Letcher, Pike and Lawrence counties Nov. 22 when employee-volunteers from Kentucky Power read to second-grade students as part of the 10th annual Read to Me Day event.

Each year on Read to Me Day, employee-volunteers travel to participating elementary schools, book in hand, to share the gift of reading with students and to encourage them to make reading a major part of their education and life.

Read to Me Day is a program that has proved popular in the counties Kentucky Power serves. Over the course of the last decade, Kentucky Power employees have read to thousands of students in eastern Kentucky. At each school the volunteers visit, they emphasize the joy and importance of reading, then read aloud a children’s book selected especially for the event. After reading the book, the volunteers also leave the book as a gift for the school’s library, increasing the library’s collection and giving the students a chance to check the book out on their own.

The children’s book selected for this year’s event is “Mousetronaut” by U.S. astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, a four-time veteran of the nation’s space shuttle program and the commander of the United States’ last shuttle mission aboard Endeavor in May 2011.

Through simple text and entertaining illustrations, Kelly tells the tale of Meteor, “a hardworking and friendly mouse who has all the qualities that a space mouse should have.” In the book, Meteor, a small mouse, rises above his physical limitations to save a space mission and earn the coveted wings of a U.S. mousetronaut. The book is a fun and enjoyable read for children that rockets them into space through the wonderful illustrations of C.F. Payne, a noted illustrator with more than a dozen books — including New York Times bestsellers – to his credit.

“Kentucky Power is pleased to offer Read to Me Day to our communities’ children for the tenth straight year,” said [Greg Pauley], president and chief operating officer of Kentucky Power. “Read to Me Day allows us to connect with our area schools annually, but more importantly, helps us spotlight benefits of reading for growth and development.”

Kentucky Power piloted the Read to Me Day program in 2004 in Pike County, and now offers the program annually, on a rotating basis, to schools in its 20-county service territory. There is no cost to schools to participate. The volunteer readers also provide students information about electricity and electrical safety, and encourage them to “play it safe” around electricity.

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