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Brooklyn author inspires hundreds of school volunteers at year kick-off event

October 15, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jason Reynolds addresses the Learning Leaders audience.
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Brooklyn author Jason Reynolds offered advice to 400 New York City public school parent volunteers, community volunteers and teachers at the Learning Leaders Opening Meeting at New York University on Sept. 30. He spoke about inspiring and empowering children to find their voices as Learning Leaders — NYC’s largest and most experienced family engagement non-profit — was celebrating the start of a new school year.

Reynolds, the critically acclaimed author of two young adult novels, “When I Was the Greatest” and “The Boy in the Black Suit” (Simon & Schuster), spoke about the importance of listening to young people, expecting and encouraging their creativity and teaching them to be proud of who they are. He urged the audience to instill a love of reading and writing in students by helping them find a book they can relate to.

 “The most important thing we can do as adults is to listen to our children and acknowledge the person they are on the inside,” Reynolds said. “Kids often tell me that they think reading is boring, but really they haven’t found their story yet. They need help to find something they can relate to. Once they have made a start, they will want to read more; they will be open to a life of literacy and literature.”

NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña also spoke at the event, emphasizing the role of parent and community volunteers in assisting with students’ vocabulary development by exposing them to a higher level of discussion, as well as fostering bilingualism. Fariña noted, “Nothing builds self confidence in children like feeling they have a voice.”

Other guest speakers included Learning Leaders Executive Director Jane Heaphy, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, NYC Councilmember and Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm, NYC Service’s Paula Gavin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Learning Leaders is New York City’s largest and most experienced non-profit dedicated to engaging families and communities to promote student success in the public schools. It recruits and trains family and community volunteers to offer individualized tutoring and support and provides family education workshops, which empower parents to foster their children’s educational development.


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