Press Release from First Lady Crissy Haslam; March 16, 2011:
NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam announced at Children’s Advocacy Days 2011 event that she will creatively seek out ways to increase and inspire parental involvement, both in Tennessee schools and during early childhood development.
“To help convey the message that a parent is a child’s first teacher, I want to encourage parents, engage communities and empower families in Tennessee,” Mrs. Haslam said.
The First Lady said she plans to travel the state and meet with parents in order to listen and challenge communities to set local objectives for parental engagement. Mrs. Haslam plans to work with parents to help meet their goals.
The First Lady also announced as part of her initiative, she will be focusing this first year on early childhood reading and plans to partner with Governor Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Education to raise the literacy rates for children.
“Outside of parental support, literacy is the number-one predictor of a child’s ability to succeed in school,” Mrs. Haslam said. “We have to be preoccupied with teaching our children to read, because it is a foundational skill upon which the rest of schooling is built.”
The First Lady will support the Department of Education’s Early Grades Reading Delivery plan, which aspires that 60 percent of all Tennessee third graders read at a proficient level or above by 2014.
“Until third grade, it’s important that we teach our children to read, because after the third grade, they read to learn,” Mrs. Haslam said. “Without appropriate grade level reading, children are not equipped for the transition of acquiring reading skills to using the skill to learn other things.”
While the First Lady is encouraging parents to start reading to their children early, she acknowledges that 7,300 children are living in state custody and will work to steer volunteers to be sure that every child has an engaged support network.
“We cannot leave these children out of the growing process,” Mrs. Haslam added. “Community groups and volunteers all play a part in ensuring that we have upward growth in how we empower children from all walks of life.”
The First Lady plans to join Governor Haslam as he talks to principals and teachers at small breakfast gatherings across the state, and she will reach out to local parents to meet, listen and learn how to overcome the obstacles parents might face.
“Bill and I know from experience that being a parent is challenging work,” Mrs. Haslam said, “so my objective is to listen to parents and to be better informed on how we can encourage them.”