FRAMINGHAM – The ‘Officer Read Aloud’ program which began at McCarthy Elementary School in March of 2019, is expanding to provide a similar experience for Woodrow Wilson Elementary School students
This expansion also adds a partnership with the Framingham Fire Department.
Police officers and firefighters will visit the school and read a book that was special to them as a child or one that they have enjoyed reading to their own children.
Families were sent a letter to introduce the program and students were presented with a discussion on how to ask appropriate questions.
For the Officer Read Aloud partnership and program, a bilingual police officer will visit the school once per month to read to two classrooms, followed by a question and answer session.
In an email to parents/guardians, Principal Purnima Vadhera encouraged families to speak with their children about the experience, ask them about the books they’re reading, and how they feel about having this time with our local police officers and firefighters.
Literacy Coach Jacqueline Carrasquillo said she was excited to bring this important collaboration with leaders in the Framingham community.
“Our hope is Woodrow Wilson students will begin to build, and in some cases rebuild, trust with our police officers and firefighters through this relationship building opportunity,” she said. “Additionally, by incorporating a literacy component, we will continue to foster the importance of reading.”
“On behalf of the Framingham Police Department, we’re really looking forward to expanding the ‘Officer Read Aloud’ program and partnership to include Woodrow Wilson Elementary School,” said Deputy Police Chief Lester Baker.
“Last year’s program launch with McCarthy Elementary School exceeded our expectations. The Officers responded positively to the opportunity to read and build relationships with the children and we knew it was only a matter of time before we’d be able to visit more schools and with more frequency. We (the Police Department) are really happy to see this happen so quickly. Our Officers continue to do great work, every day, every shift and most of it goes unnoticed. I can’t thank them enough for their commitment to the citizens of this City,” said the Deputy Police Chief.
Deputy Chief Baker reiterated his sentiments from last spring in that creating the space for frequent, positive interactions between Framingham Police Officers and our youth can create long term relationships that will benefit the community, school department, and police department.
It should not take a negative or horrific event to meet a police officer. The ‘Officer Read Aloud’ Program is another great way to help shift the unfortunate perception that a Police Officer’s presence means that something is wrong. Increasing positive Police interactions further expands community-driven initiatives such as the Police Athletic League, leadership/mentor programs, and Youth Dialogue.
The expansion is unique in that Wilson students will also have the opportunity to build relationships with Framingham firefighters.
Once per month, a firefighter will read a book in Grades K-2 to two classrooms and answer questions.
The firefighter will also present fire safety information to Grades 3-5. In addition to the monthly reading commitment, Framingham Firefighters will also mentor a group of fourth-grade boys.
“It will be a great pleasure for the Framingham Fire Department to be able to interact with the Woodrow Wilson School students through the expansion of the “Officer Read Aloud!” program this year,” said Lieutenant/Assistant Fire Marshal Joseph A Mazzola. “It is important to our firefighters to be able to build relationships with our city’s young residents to teach them some early lessons about fire safety and prevention issues both at home and in school. Equally important is the opportunity to mentor Woodrow Wilson’s fourth-grade students through some thoughtful, meaningful discussions about firefighting and staying safe in the event of a fire. Providing our young city residents with more knowledge about life safety and fire prevention will be the key to our success.”
“Reading aloud provides great connections and benefits for children and adults,” said Principal Vadhera. “Not only does it improve communication for our students, it allows adults to connect to students in an extremely powerful way. We are excited about our collaboration with the Framingham Police and Fire Departments as this is one step towards community building and building positive relationships!”
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