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RCPS Launches 52 Weeks of Reading to Increase Family Engagement, Foster Love of Reading

Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS) has launched its new 52 Weeks of Reading program for the 2023-2024 school year, which promotes literacy, critical thinking, and family engagement. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m., students and their families are invited to tune in for a virtual story time, featuring special readers who will encourage families to have discussions following the story.

“It’s really important for our students to engage in reading every day, and every Wednesday, we are going to celebrate reading as a school system,” said RCPS Superintendent Dr. Verletta White.

52 Weeks of Reading is generously sponsored by Cox Communications and Gentry Locke Attorneys.

“We know that access to learning materials is critical for student’s success,” said Cox Market Vice President in Roanoke Jeff Merritt. “Which is why Cox is pleased to support Roanoke City Schools and the 52 Weeks of Reading Program. Through programs like this and ensuring a reliable broadband connection through our low-cost internet offerings, together we’re ensuring children have the tools they need to succeed today and in the future.”  

RCPS partnered with Cox to bring former NFL Super Bowl Champion Malcolm Mitchell to share a message of encouragement, resiliency, and respect along with the importance of reading and digital literacy as students begin the new school year. Mr. Mitchell visited James Madison Middle School and Lincoln Terrace Elementary School on Monday, Aug. 28 to kick off 52 Weeks of Reading, and he is also the inaugural reader for 52 Weeks of Reading.

“Someone like Malcolm Mitchell, and so many role models that we have here in the Roanoke Valley, can show our learners how important it is to develop a love of reading,” Dr. White said.

Mitchell is a graduate of University of Georgia, played for the New England Patriots in the 2017 Super Bowl, and founded the Share the Magic Foundation, whose mission is to transform children’s lives through literacy. Among his numerous awards and accomplishments both on and off the field, he considers discovering a love of reading one of his greatest achievements.

“Growing up, I believed that football was the most important thing in the world. Once I got to the University of Georgia, I realized that the most self-empowering tool a human being could possess is the ability to read proficiently,” Mr. Mitchell said.

With a continued focus on literacy, RCPS has developed a year-long reading program to encourage and support families to read together through videos and other virtual tools. Each week’s video will be posted to RCPS’ website and social media platforms.