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Bonding Through Books: Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputies Enjoy Reading to Kids Online

Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Angela Speight reads “The Pigeon Has to Go to School.” (Photo courtesy Alexandria Sheriff’s Office)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – During a normal school year, deputies from the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office would visit elementary schools and read to students. With kids learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Sheriff’s Office wanted to maintain that connection fostered in classrooms. Enter the Storytime for Students online reading program, which began this past spring.

Every week, one deputy chooses a book to read, and the video is posted online. Students, teachers, and parents can access that video and others in the series at anytime via Facebook.

The video posted last Wednesday featured Deputy Angela Speight reading “The Pigeon Has to Go to School” by Mo Williams. This coming week, Deputy Shayla Leonard will read “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. While there is no schedule of upcoming readings, the activity is entertaining and rewarding for both children and the deputies.

“The response has been wonderful!” said Amy Bertsch, Communications Specialist with the Sheriff’s Office. “Deputies are having fun doing it and we’ve received lots of nice feedback from families. We’ve even heard from authors, like Erica Silverman who thanked Sheriff Lawhorne for sharing her book, ‘The Big Pumpkin.’ ”

Deputies are free to decide which book they will share. Selections come from personal favorites and recommendations.

“Deputy [Sean] Scalsky read ‘Dragons Love Tacos’ because his sister, who is a teacher, recommended it,” said Bertsch. “And Deputy [Brian] Mauck wanted to take on the challenge of the tongue-twister, ‘Fox in Socks’ by Dr. Seuss.”

Storytime for Students has become such a hit that requests are now being taken. Audience members can leave book titles in the comments section of videos.

Until next week, enjoy Deputy Speight’s reading by clicking HERE. For every video in the series, click HERE.

Be sure to stay tuned. The Sheriff’s Office plans to continue the program at least until the end of the year, so if your child has a favorite book that hasn’t been featured yet, just let them know.

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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