TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Valerie Simpson, Truckee Elementary School principal is featured in this week’s Readers Are Leaders, a series of interviews about the impact of reading in the lives and careers of local leaders. To read past interviews with leaders who are readers, visit www.tahoedailytribune.com, search “Readers.”
Q: Why do you think readers are leaders?
A: Readers are leaders because when you read, you get smarter! As you get smarter you have more interesting things to say and you can hold conversations that make sense — when you have the ability to communicate effectively, people listen to what you have to say and you can then become a leader!
Q: What’s your favorite children’s book?
A: “The Golden Rule” by Ilene Cooper is one of my favorite children’s books because of the beautiful illustrations and the simple message that’s important in school and in everyday life; treat others as you would like to be treated.
Q: Is reading important in your life/career? How so?
A: I use reading in my work all the time! I read reports, books to learn to be a better principal and my most favorite reading — reading books to students.
Q: If you were snowed in at a backcountry hut, what reading material would you want to have with you?
A: I really like books by Alice Hoffman because you can “lose yourself” in her stories. I would also like to have some authors that are new to me, such as Breena Clark and Toni Morrison. If I had all the books on Oprah’s book list, I would just read them all and check them off as I go!!
Q: Where is your favorite place to read/when is your favorite time to read?
A: I like to read as I am by the river or while sitting in the sun by a pool!
Valerie’s leadership about reading’s importance is a benefit to her school.
Truckee Elementary was recently spotlighted when 400 Truckee Elementary students participated in the Renaissance Learning “Read the Most from Coast to Coast” nationwide challenge. They were among 30,000 children helping to break the national record for the number of Accelerated Reader Quizzes taken in one day with a total of 4,987,949 quizzes! Children take these quizzes on the computer and are tested on reading comprehension.
There are many literacy efforts year round at Truckee Elementary including partnerships with both Sunrise and Noon Rotary Clubs that provide hands-on volunteer support to promote reading, recognize individual students for literacy accomplishments and purchase books and dictionaries for students’ home libraries.
To promote school readiness, 48 Truckee Elementary State Preschool children receive weekly visits by Rotarians who read specially selected, themed storybooks with the children. Another literacy program, funded by First Five Nevada County, provides the preschool children with bi-monthly visits by school bus to the Truckee Library, where the children participate in Bilingual Story Time with Children’s Librarian Teri Andrews Rinne. Bilingual Story Time incorporates a variety of activities to extend the literacy message, including music, movement and rhyme. Parents of the children are introduced to library resources for children’s school success. The families receive library cards through this program and become regular patrons of the library
Truckee Elementary is also an active partner in the Tahoe Truckee Reads Initiative through such activities as the Summer Reading Program and an exciting new early literacy project, piloted this year at Truckee and Kings Beach Elementary Schools, Scholastic’s “Read and Rise” program.
Funded through a Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s Queen of Hearts Fund grant, this program features a series of six interactive and educational classes that show parents how to intentionally utilize everyday life activities to promote and enhance language and vocabulary development beginning at infancy.
Reading success is a very strong leadership value for Valerie and her students at Truckee Elementary!
Ruth Jackson Hall is the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Early Learning Coordinator.