Springfield Public Schools superintendent Grenita Lathan presented new books to students at Wanda Gray Elementary School May 24, 2023. (Photo by Carly Randles)

At 10 a.m. on a Wednesday, Dr. Grenita Lathan came to Wanda Gray Elementary to share her love of reading.

This is the second year the superintendent of Springfield Public Schools has given out free Scholastic books to kindergarten through fifth grade students in the entire school district. 

“When you think of students being away for the summer,” Lathan said, “you see a decrease in student achievement. So students who continue to read throughout the summer, it helps with their academic readiness for the upcoming school year.”

Upon her arrival at Gray Elementary, the office staff told Lathan what the children like to call her, “the boss,’ boss’ boss.” After laughing and chatting, she headed down the hall to the students. The fourth grade students were paired with their kindergarten reading buddies. Once the children received their books, the fourth graders helped their buddies read.

“I love to read,” Lathan told the students as a couple of children ran up to hug her. These students were thanking her for the books and because they were happy that she came to their school. Afterwards, Lathan visited with the students.

A Wanda Gray Elementary student hugs Dr. Grenita Lathan after Lathan gave her a book during Explore, the Springfield Public Schools summer school program. (Photo by Carly Randles)

As Springfield Public Schools continues to balance screen time with physical books or materials, this allows students to have quality reading materials. 

“Just to be able to read actual books and off of devices, it helps with student achievement,” Lathan said.

Reading will also be emphasized in Explore, SPS’ name for its summer school program. Registration for summer school is still open for students, provided a particular class is not full. Enrolling for virtual classes this summer does not close. The deadline for July classes is June 15, 2023. To register for Explore, visit the Explore web site.

Carly Randles

Carly Randles is a general assignment intern at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She is a senior at Missouri State University studying journalism, and most recently was the behind the scenes photographer for a film competition. More by Carly Randles