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Zac Brown Band’s Coy Bowles Helps Gov. and Mrs. Deal Launch Read Across Georgia Month


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From left: State School Superintendent Richard Woods, Office of the Governor Education Outreach coordinator Pam Harris Williams, Gov. Nathan Deal, Zac Brown Band guitarist Coy Bowles, Get Georgia Reading Campaign Director Arianne Weldon, Georgia first lady Sandra Deal, and Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Amy Jacobs

Zac Brown Band guitarist Coy Bowles joined Gov. Nathan Deal and first lady Sandra Deal on March 3, along with Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Commissioner Amy Jacobs and state School Superintendent Richard Woods, to kick off Read Across Georgia month.

Gov. Deal told the crowd gathered in the north wing of the Capitol that we take far too many things for granted, and reading is one of them.

“We expect that all students should be able to read on third-grade level before they leave third grade,” he said. “But unfortunately, only a third of Georgia’s students are able to do that. Sandra and I have made increasing the percentage of Georgia’s third-grade students reading on grade level a top priority.”

The governor went on to say that a firm literary foundation is essential for the academic success of Georgia’s youngest learners, and the Read Across Georgia initiative helps to provide just that. “With the help of state agencies and organizations, we have made great strides in achieving this goal. By prioritizing early childhood education, we ensure that our youngest students are positioned for future academic excellence,” he said.

The Read Across Georgia campaign, which launched in 2012, supports the Governor’s Grade Level Reading initiative with the goal that all Georgia students are reading at grade level or better by the end of the third grade.

“We’re grateful to Governor and Mrs. Deal for their commitment to getting all kids in Georgia on the path to literacy,” said Get Georgia Reading Campaign Director Arianne Weldon. “I encourage all our partners in the Campaign to support the first lady in Read Across Georgia month. Volunteer to read at a school or childcare center and challenge the members in your organizations to support local literacy efforts.”

Jacobs agrees. “For years, the governor and Mrs. Deal have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to early literacy by reading to children in child care learning centers and Georgia’s Pre-K classrooms across the state,” she said. “Together we’re guiding Georgia’s youngest learners toward a path to read on grade level by the end of the third grade, a predictor of future positive outcomes for children.”

The first lady is visiting and reading to Pre-K Program and elementary-school students across the state throughout March, and urges all Georgians to give back during March by being a guest reader at a school or library, to listen to a child read, or to help a second-language non-reading adult sign up for classes.

“We want our children to love reading, and to acquire reading skills so they can grow up independent and earn a living for themselves and for their families,” said Mrs. Deal. “If we want to give our children choices in their lives, we must first teach them to read.”

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As a part of the kick-off celebration, Mrs. Deal introduced Bowles—a native Georgian and children’s book author—and his new book, Will Powers: Where There’s a Will There’s a Way, a story about overcoming self-entitlement and achieving goals with dedication and a strong work ethic.

“The idea of exposing kids to the positive message of the power of hard work and self-confidence is so awesome,” said Bowles, who credits his parents for cultivating his work ethic. “Self-entitlement is a big issue facing our kids, parents, and teachers today. Hopefully Mrs. Deal and I can help by sharing a story with them that provides an example and answers.”

Mrs. Deal and Bowles are going to send a signed copy of the book to the other 49 first ladies across the country to promote Read Across America.

“Just as our children need physical exercise to grow properly, they also need to work their intellectual muscles by reading,” said Gov. Deal. “Let’s unlock our children’s imagination. Let’s exercise the muscles of their minds. Let’s read across Georgia.”

Watch a video by DECAL that shows some highlights from this year’s Read Across Georgia kick-off event.

Watch DECAL’s coverage of the entire event.