District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson pitched in to help reward Brown Elementary School students who are working hard to meet and exceed their reading goals.
Lawson visited the school Tuesday, Jan. 30, and brought along her shepherd Paddy, a therapy dog in training, to congratulate the students on their progress. She presented Principal Trina Reaves with $4,500 as further encouragement.
"We as an office are so proud of you kids, how much effort you've made, and the improvements you've been making over the last couple of years," Lawson told a group of fifth-graders. "We are giving y'all $4,500 towards incentives to encourage you to keep reading - and reading and reading and reading."
The students participate in several reading programs. Some are old standards like Accelerated Reader, a library-based reading program that helps students track their progress and tests their comprehension through quizzes. Others are adapted to the current technology available to kids, like MyOn, a digital book library that matches books to students' reading level and interest that they can access from a smartphone or tablet.
Students at Brown Elementary also earn points toward incentives by reading news articles on a variety of academic subjects through a program called Newsela.
Lawson said she wanted to help students get excited about reading because it's foundational - reading is a skill that informs every class, subject and discipline.
The children brainstormed ways they could use the money, from trips to trampoline parks and the Tellus Science Museum to days off school. Lawson was quick to nix the latter, encouraging students that school days and homework are worthy of their time and effort.
"If you read a lot now, I promise you, you are going to do well in middle school, and that will make you do well in high school, and that will make you get into college," Lawson said, reminding the students of the HOPE scholarship programs available to them if they can keep their grades up.
"In Georgia, you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it, study hard, read and do the right thing," she said.
The funds were generated through the District Attorney's Office pre-trial intervention and diversion program. Program participants can donate money toward a portion of their community service requirements that the district attorney can then give back to community organizations. She told the students that Brown Elementary was one of her favorites to offer contributions.
"We want to keep encouraging you all," Lawson said. "I am very proud of you guys, and I just wish you the best."