Turn the Page: It’s Read Across America Month

By Kim Borges

This celebration …

Across the nation …

Promotes imagination …

Among the next generation.

March marks the 25th anniversary of Read Across America, a program established by the National Education Association to promote reading among children and teens nationwide.

Visit Reid Park Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, and you’ll quickly discover that story time is eagerly anticipated by pre-kindergarten students in Lisa Schreibeis’s classroom.

“The children are always so excited when I say Mr. Bill and Mr. Jared are coming,” Schreibeis said.

Mr. Bill is Bill Bateman, a credit executive with Regions Bank’s Diversified Industries Risk team. Mr. Jared? That’s Jared Hall, a senior credit officer with the bank’s Commercial Risk team. The two not only read to students twice a month, but they’ve also recruited 18 additional associates to join them.

“The Regions Reads for Reid Park initiative has been one of the most rewarding community projects I’ve ever led,” said Bateman, who’s read to students for nearly 20 years. “All we had to do was provide a little organization and coordination. The outpouring of associate volunteers to read was so popular that we ended up having a list of alternate readers. It’s so heartwarming.”

And the benefits for students?

“Reading promotes brain development and imagination, it develops language, builds vocabulary and emotions and strengthens relationships,” said Schreibeis. “Beyond reading, Mr. Bill and Mr. Jared have also incorporated math skills by providing piggy banks with coins to promote saving money for something they really want or need. The relationship Mr. Bill and Mr. Jared have developed with our students matters because they are consistent role models who are giving our students the confidence to share thoughts and ideas.”

Here are just a few of those thoughts and ideas from the students themselves:

“My favorite part of reading time is … reading the very silly books.” 
–A’zariah

“The readers from Regions Bank are … funny when they wear a pencil suit.” 
–Khloe

“My favorite book that’s been read during story time is … Little Red Riding Hood.” 
–Alaia

“If I could be any character from book we’ve read, it would be… the Big Bad Wolf.” 
–Na’Ryan

Discover what reading at Reid Park means to four Regions associates:

Bill Bateman

Credit Executive, Diversified Industries Risk Team

What’s your favorite part of reading to the Reid Park students? 
The joy on their faces when Mr. Jared and Mr. Bill arrive every other week to read.

What have you learned about yourself by leading this project? 
I never dreamed I would have so much fun wearing a pencil costume for one of our reading sessions. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and, most importantly, the kids got a kick out of it.

Do you have a favorite book you’ve read to the students? 
That’s easy, “Go Dog Go.” Who doesn’t love a dog party?

Any funny or cute memories come to mind? 
Hard to top the pencil costume.

Jared Hall

Senior Credit Officer, Commercial Risk Team

What’s your favorite part of reading to the Reid Park students? 
Seeing the students listen intently and interact as we read.

What have you learned about yourself by leading this project? 
Learning to be more creative as I read adding expression, changing up voices, etc. One week we incorporated a ukulele and sang a song that was in the story. Bill leads by example!

Do you have a favorite book or two you’ve read to the students? 
“Llama Llama Red Pajama” and “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.”

Any funny or cute memories come to mind? 
Definitely agree, Bill’s pencil costume is a highlight.

Maura Atwater

Regions Business Capital Portfolio Manager

What’s your favorite part of reading to the Reid Park students? 
The excitement on the children’s faces when you ask them a question about what you have read and they know the answer. They are so excited to be able to answer your question and to show you that they are paying attention and can understand the words. They are so proud of themselves. That is the sole reason for doing this, it’s to instill confidence in them and for them to learn to love reading.

What are the traits you’ve seen in your Regions teammates through this project? 
Their willingness to help others and give of their time to invest in the students.

What have you learned about yourself through your involvement in this project? 
I think the biggest thing I have learned is that the littlest amount of time can have the biggest impact. Reading at Reid Park is one hour including commute time, but I can see the impact on these students and the joy it beings them. It’s my hope that their love for reading will grow because of it.

Any favorite books you’ve read to the students? 
Anything that has repetitive words or phrases as the kids get so excited to participate with you. They exude such joy when they can say the words with you.

Al Bacchi

Managing Director, Diversified Industries

What’s your favorite part of reading to the Reid Park students? 
I love the joy on their faces at hearing stories, and, in most cases, even when they’ve heard the stories before! 

What are the traits you’ve seen in your Regions teammates through this project? 
I love the sense of community and sharing evident among my colleagues.

What have you learned about yourself through your involvement in it? 
I have learned to be more hopeful when I see the children engaged with learning at a young age.

Do you have a favorite book(s) you’ve read to the students? 
“Little Red Riding Hood.” Such a classic.

Any funny or cute memories come to mind? 
I love when some of the children are so excited about what comes next that they can’t help but blurt it out.

Interested in Read Across America?

Learn more about free Read Across America resources
Check out the Read Across America calendar featuring book ideas.

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