In 2020, Read to Them adapted to needs of the moment by creating innovative new programming featuring up-to-date digital resources. We are proud of our ability to refine and improve our programs – and we couldn’t do it without vital, creative personnel like Chloe Grant and Oliver Perry. Most recently, Chloe spearheaded the creation of our Digital Resource Hub and Oliver was instrumental in supplying fresh, vibrant content across the range of Read to Them programming. Both are now set to pursue Masters in Teaching degrees and while Read to Them is sad to lose them, we also want to thank and appreciate them for their dynamic contributions. We have no doubt that, once Chloe and Oliver are in their respective classrooms, the world will be better for their creativity, their light, and their drive to nurture the up-and-coming generation of young scholars.
Upon reflection, Chloe Grant found that her role at Read to Them changed completely in the last year.
“When I first started, I was a Program Assistant for One Richmond, One Book,” Grant says. She took the helm in creating a number of materials to support the Richmond-based program, including bulletin boards, assemblies, and implementing classroom read alouds and activities in participating schools. When COVID sent students into a virtual learning environment, Grant explains, “As our organization tried to figure out how to best support kiddos and families at home, I helped develop our digital program, #OneBookConnects. Through that process I began creating digital components to bolster our programs.”
As Program Developer, she has had the opportunity to create and manage the development of the Digital Resource Hub, a set of supplemental resources that includes daily reading quizzes, access to Flipgrid communities dedicated to your read, and blog posts. Grant has also supported numerous state reading programs and interviewed #OneBookConnects authors. This role, Grant says, “changes all the time” and allows the freedom for growth and the ability to support her team in new ways.
“In my original role the highlight was every single smile, laugh, and hug I got to experience working in the schools,” Grant reflects. “Right before COVID, I got to write and direct a skit with some students at a local elementary school. Watching them take on their roles and be so invested in filming this scene was the best thing on this planet.” Grant, in conducting author interviews, adds, “I was star-struck on Instagram live-chatting with Lesa Cline-Ransome. I cried after that interview because I was so honored! I am grateful for the moments like that I experienced in this position.”
In fall of 2021, Grant will be heading back to the classroom as she begins her full-year residency teaching 9th and 11th grade English alongside a coach. During this time, Grant will be finishing her Masters in Teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is on track to graduate in spring of 2022.
“I have learned so much during my time at Read to Them,” Grant says. “I have been mentored by wonderful individuals who have invested their time in me. I hope to share that investment with my future students, and bring some of the joy I’ve felt while working at Read to Them into their lives.”
Read to Them, Grant claims, “will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will hold onto the lessons I’ve learned here for the remainder of my career.” As she steps into this new phase of her professional life, Grant says, “I hope that I have left even a fraction of the impact that Read to Them has left on me.”
When he first started at Read to Them, Oliver Perry was one of the on-site Program Assistants for the One Richmond, One Book program. Through reading books aloud to participating students and leading activities in a variety of classrooms, Perry claims, “I kind of fell in love with the idea of teaching.” Like Grant, Perry will be starting his residency at Armstrong High School as an 11th and 12th grade English co-teacher as he completes his Masters in Teaching at VCU.
Perry was drawn to Read to Them due to a love for the organization’s mission.
“I believe very strongly that creating a culture of literacy in our homes and in our schools plays a huge role in the future success and happiness of us and our kids,” Perry says.
In his two years at Read to Them, he has bolstered Read to Them’s mission by lending his talent to Read to Them’s resource-laden book packets. Perry has crafted discussion questions, activities, and assemblies as well as contributed greatly to launching the Digital Resource Hub earlier in the year.
As Perry looks ahead, he’s eager to enter his own classroom with tools he’s accumulated while at Read to Them. His confidence has grown and Perry feels that he has improved his so-called “stage presence” through leading activities and assemblies in schools.
“I’ve also become a self-proclaimed master at pulling the ‘good bits’ out of a story,” he says. “Whether it’s [in the form of] discussion questions or activities, I can only see that serving me well as an English teacher.”
When asked to consider the highlight of his time at Read to Them, Perry says the answer is easy: “It’s got to be the amazing people I’ve met and [getting to see] the awesome work they do. Namely, my wonderful Programs team comrades, Kayla and Chloe.” Perry adds that he has learned a great deal from his team. “I wouldn’t trade these people and experiences for the world.”