By Seth Coleman
In honor of Black History Month, Dobbs Elementary School highlighted its focus on reading with an “African American Read-In” program last week.
The program featured more than 20 participants from all walks of life, who read two-to-three short books to students throughout the day. One of the readers was WVEE-FM (V-103) radio personality Ferarri Simmons, who brought his “Reading with Rari” initiative to the school.
Simmons said he has always stressed to young people the importance of reading and getting a good education. However, he said having his own children – a second-grader and a four-year-old – has made him even more determined to drive home the message.
“Reading to them every night has really enlightened me,” said Simmons, who launched “Reading with Rari” this school year. Every Friday, he visits a local elementary school and reads to students. “I can see how it is making a difference with my kids, and so I want to do the same thing with as many kids in the community as I can.”
Simmons uses his celebrity to drive home the positive message of doing well in school.
“I tell them that even though you hear me on the radio, a lot of time I’m reading a sheet, I’m not just talking,” Simmons said. “So I tell them they can be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a radio host on V-103. They can be anything they want to be, but they have to be able to read.”
Damion “Da-Da” Lewis of Streetz 94.5 is another local celebrity who participated in the Dobbs African American Read-In. He too is passionate about stressing the importance of reading and education to young people. Additionally, he wants them to know that being smart and educated is “cool.”
“I want them to know that I may talk one way or act one way on the radio, but when I am reading to them I speak differently,” Lewis said. “My dad always told me growing up, that you have to know when to turn it on and turn it off. There is a way you talk when you’re having fun with your friends, but there is a way you speak when you are in school and handling business.”
Dobbs’ African American Read-In attracted non-celebrities as well. James Taylor visits Dobbs frequently, volunteering and serving as a male role model and mentor to the students.
“Anything that Dobbs has going on, I’m here,” Taylor said. “Reading is a fundamental part of getting your education. I wanted to be here to support an event like this that is so important.”
Dobbs will host a Family Literacy Day, Friday, Feb. 26, beginning at 9:30 a.m. This event will help parents better understand the importance of reading to their children through various mini-worshops and interactive sessions.