First Lady Touring TN to Promote Good Parenting

Installing a laundromat in a school. Hosting theme parties for parents and students with educational components. Sending teachers and staff into the community to knock on doors and tell families what’s going on at their children’s school.

These are some of the ideas for involving parents in education highlighted in a report released today by First Lady Crissy Haslam’s office summarizing her work with 10 elementary and intermediate schools around the state during the 2011-12 school year.

“Parents and guardians are a child’s first and most important teacher, and their role in ensuring that children are beginning kindergarten with the foundational skills they need to be successful is crucial for the future of education and economic development in Tennessee,” the report, Parental Engagement in Tennessee, says.

The report links education to the economy and jobs efforts, emphasizes 3rd grade reading proficiency as a key marker of later success and lays out the ways Haslam’s office is trying to promote reading, volunteering in the schools, and mentoring of young parents. It also holds up as examples efforts like the bus tour put on by Dyersburg City Schools. Teachers and staff tour the community, talking with parents at churches, community centers and a neighborhood pool.

View a video of the bus tour here.


Press Releases

First Family Opens Doors to Governor’s Mansion

State of Tennessee Press Release; Nov. 30, 2011:

Governor and First Lady Haslam begin “Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays” tradition

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam will begin a new holiday tradition Monday, December 5 when they host “Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays,” a free open house event at the executive residence during the first two weeks in December.

Tennesseans from across the state are invited to take self-guided tours and enjoy the holiday decorations at the Tennessee Residence and Conservation Hall December 5-9 and December 12-16. Those interested should register online at the First Lady’s website:

“Bill and I feel so blessed to live in the Tennessee Residence, and we are excited to invite visitors to enjoy the holiday decorations,” Mrs. Haslam said. “We are honored to be able to welcome guests with warm Tennessee hospitality.”

In support of the Tennessee agriculture industry, the Christmas trees featured in the Tennessee Residence were donated by the Tennessee Christmas Tree Growers Association and Pick Tennessee Products. On the tour handouts, a “quick response,” or QR code, will allow many smartphone users to scan the code and find out where they can buy these Tennessee grown trees. Turkish Fir, Nordmann Fir and Frasier Fir trees were provided by Wintergreen Farm in Laurel Bloomery, and Canaan Fir and Blue Spruce trees were provided by Roan Valley Farm in Johnson City.

Holiday decorations in the Tennessee Residence were provided by Jim Marvin and Larry Keeton. Marvin, an internationally known designer and decorator from Dickson, has decorated the White House for the holidays since 1997. In addition to participating in decorating the Tennessee Residence for many years, Keeton is also the annual holiday decorator of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Resort in Nashville. Mark O’Bryan of the Tulip Tree also donated centerpieces and holiday flowers.

Sixteen trees in Conservation Hall were each decorated according to a theme with ornaments provided by elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities throughout Tennessee.

The READ 20 trees, in honor of the First Lady’s initiative to promote grade-level reading by the third grade, are decorated with ornaments inspired by elementary students’ favorite books. I.T. Creswell Magnet Middle School in Nashville dedicated ornaments for the “patriotic tree” in honor of the brave Tennesseans who serve in the military. High School students from Nashville School of the Arts in Davidson County created ornaments for the “Tennessee Landscape and Symbols” tree, and colleges and universities throughout the state were invited to decorate a tree with ornaments that represent each school.

For more information about “Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays,” please visit

Press Releases

First Lady Haslam Attends ‘Books from Birth’ Event in Knoxville

Press Release from First Lady Crissy Haslam, Oct. 28, 2011:

Stresses importance of early literacy during Knoxville workshop

KNOXVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam today spoke to East Tennessee Imagination Library volunteers during a Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation workshop in Knoxville.

During the event, held at the Burlington Branch Library, Haslam thanked volunteers for their efforts to facilitate early literacy. She also discussed her parental involvement initiative to remind parents of their role as a child’s first teacher and to encourage partnership between schools and families.

“Today, only one out of 300 children from low-income families has age-appropriate children’s books in their home,” Mrs. Haslam said. “As program volunteers, you play an important role in improving literacy for our youngest Tennesseans and are on the front lines in helping them develop a love for reading before they reach Kindergarten.”

The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, which leads Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties, hosts annual workshops for volunteers and local affiliate partners in each of the three grand divisions of the state.

Currently, 53 percent of all Tennessee children from birth to age five are registered in the Imagination Library and receive free books in the mail every month. More than 213,000 Tennessee 5-year-olds have already “graduated” from the program. The statewide program has helped deliver more than 13 million books to Tennessee children since the creation of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation in 2004.

Press Releases

First Lady Haslam Supports ‘Read for the Record’ Campaign

Press Release from Crissy Haslam, First Lady of Tennessee, Oct. 5, 2011:

Mrs. Haslam participates in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record Campaign in Nashville

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam sat down with 70 Pre-K students at Napier Enhanced Option Elementary in Nashville today to read Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Haslam is a proponent for early childhood literacy and was invited to preview Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign. The event sponsored by Jumpstart and Pearson Foundation aims to set a new world record for the most people reading the same book on the same day. The official day to “Read for the Record” is Thursday, October 6.

“Programs like Read for the Record are an inventive way to raise awareness about the importance of reading to children at an early age,” Haslam said. “Tomorrow more than two million readers will pick up the same book I read today and share it with children all over the world.”

An estimated two million readers will participate in this year’s event. The millions of record-breakers who take part each year come from all walks of life: students and parents, teachers and superintendents, mayors and legislators, and many others who are interested in celebrating reading and getting young people off to a good start toward a lifetime of learning. In recent years, celebrity participants have included Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Bill Cosby, Patti LaBelle, Justin Bieber, and LL Cool J.

In conjunction with the annual Read for the Record event, the Pearson Foundation’s “We Give Books” campaign donated more than 200,000 copies of Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney and also made the book available digitally for the day of the event.

“This is a great opportunity to encourage children and families to read together, while also sharing books with those who might not have access to them,” said Mrs. Haslam.

Press Releases

First Lady Haslam Hosts Military Spouses

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Bill Haslam, Aug. 4, 2011:

Mrs. Haslam expresses appreciation and gratitude to military families

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam today hosted more than 100 spouses of deployed soldiers of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard for a reception at the Tennessee Residence.

The purpose of the event was to honor the sacrifices that military families have made and to pay tribute to the spouses who play a vital role in our nation’s defense. Country Singer/Songwriter Josh Thompson provided entertainment at the event.

“Men and women in the military make incredible sacrifices, and we can never thank you enough for the sacrifices your families have also made for our country,” Mrs. Haslam said during the event. She also shared best wishes from the governor, who is currently overseas visiting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Col. Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, and Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Adjunct General of the Tennessee National Guard, both attended the event to honor military families. A Military Spouses’ Day Proclamation, recently signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, was read aloud to acknowledge the significant contributions, support and sacrifices of spouses of the Armed Forces.

“It was an honor to welcome so many brave military spouses to the Tennessee Residence, and we are so incredibly grateful for their service and sacrifice,” Mrs. Haslam said.