State Teacher of the Year award winners are partnering with Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation for the 2012 edition of "Read for the Record," a nationwide literacy awareness program taking place next week.
Joining that list of literacy promoters is Windham biology teacher Bethany Bernasconi, who captured the Teacher of the Year award last year in New Hampshire.
According to Bernasconi, the Pearson Foundation is one of the major sponsors of the award, which is why the winners are being brought into the mix.
"This is just to really try to raise some awareness about the importance of literacy," Bernasconi said. "You think it would really be self-evident, but we still have kids slipping through the cracks."
Although nothing is set in stone, Bernasconi said that conversations are happening in the district to try to pair up the high school and middle school.
"I have spoken to a couple of reading specialists here at the (high) school to see if we can get something going," she said. "Even just awareness on a small scall for the event."
She added that she will be busy next week, first going to an elementary school in Amherst on Monday to do some readings.
On Oct 4., the record-breaking day where all students will be asked to read a copy of the children's book Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, Bernasconi will be in New York for a final conference with the other state Teacher of the Year award winners.
While Bernasconi said that literacy might be more severe in other areas of the country, the same issues are impacting children in towns everywhere.
"The challenges of the economy, parents being laid off, divorce, mental illness – all of those things can be found in towns across the country," she said. "There is so much more behind each student and each student's story that we don't see in the classroom."
Bernasconi called literacy a "communication piece" that is so much more than just being able to read.
While she teaches biology, she said that she understands that educators don't teach content, they teach kids.
"The vehicle we do that through is the content that we are passionate and excited about."
As part of a trip to Washington D.C. in April for Bernasconi and other state Teacher of the Year winners, public service announcements were recorded for the annual awareness event.
Bernasconi and other teachers also recorded a YouTube video reading Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad.
According to the program website, 2.2 million people participated in last year's event. Bernasconi said that it is aimed toward kids ages 0-8.