Do you remember ever hanging out with your principal after school hours? Chances are, like most people, you wouldn’t have ever thought of it. After all, school principals aren’t often known for their camaraderie with students, but one first-year principal from Texas might just change that stereotype.
Dr. Belinda George is the principal of Homer Drive Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas. Apart from getting along with students, she’s also found a way to channel their love of social media into a more productive endeavor: reading! In December 2018, George started “Tucked-In Tuesdays” every week at 7:30 p.m. The 42-year-old principal gets into her pajamas and reads a new book on Facebook Live through the Homer Drive Elementary School Facebook page for her 680 students.
George hopes to use this weekly ritual as a way to encourage her students, whom she refers to as scholars, to foster the love of reading. It’s her way of going that extra mile for them. “I want to extend what I do past 4 pm,” George told WLKY News.
According to George, the goal is “to bridge the gap between home and school. I also want to form relationships with my scholars and their families.”
The books run the gamut from the whimsical to the silly, with past titles including Madeline’s Christmas, The Ninjabread Man, and the Astronaut Handbook, among others. The following day, students usually go up to George to ask her where they can find the book in the school library or to talk to her about their favorite part of the book.
It’s not just the kids who are on board with the principal’s initiative. Students’ parents have become fans too. Keaya Turner, a mother of four kids, told WLKY News, “I have a 14-year-old, a third-grader, and first-grader who go to Homer, and my 10-month-old even sits still to watch.”
George is thrilled with the response that the nighttime reading sessions have received. She told 12News, “The kids are thinking cool and I’m thinking.”
She further added, “Y’all don’t know how much you’re blessing my heart.”
Students also have the option of taking a quiz about the book as part of the school’s reading comprehension curriculum. George hopes this will improve her students’ reading level as only 55 percent of them were reading at their grade level or above it. With each book she reads, George includes information on the book’s reading level and the Accelerated Reader (AR) points.
“That shift in their brain where they think she really cares and they start working hard for you,” George said.
“I’m not in every child’s home, so I don’t know if all or any of them have someone to read to them at night. This is just a way to give the children that exposure,” she said.
Thanks to the recent exposure she’s gotten, students from Homer Drive Elementary School aren’t the only ones she’s been reading to. Since she started Tucked-In Tuesdays and has been interviewed in numerous news shows, more people have been tuning in to the Facebook Live stream from all around the country. One video, in particular, has even reached 16,000 views, with comments from people in New York and California.
George, who doesn’t have kids of her own, said: “I love children, and I just want to help my parents in any way that I can.”
“I am just doing what I love and that is honoring children,” she further added.
With kids constantly glued to social media and YouTube, George has found a way to channel their attention into an activity that will foster a love of learning. We hope more teachers take a page from her and start their own version of “Tucked-In Tuesdays.”
Watch the video:
Elementary school principal Dr. Belinda George reads books to her students over Facebook Live to ensure they have a bedtime story. In less than a year, reading scores at her school have improved.
Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Friday, March 15, 2019