February and March were rather snowy months this year, with snow days and two-hour delays wreaking havoc on school schedules throughout the northeast. Among the events that were cancelled—twice, in fact—was Read Across America Day at the Carbondale Elementary School.
Word of the cancellation never reached a certain scheduled reader, though, so to the delight of the students in Ms. Makenzie Lynn’s 4th grade class, the national event held annually in honor of Dr. Seuss’s March 2 birthday proceeded as planned.
Patrolman Dominick Andidora, a City of Carbondale police officer, was invited to be a reader in Ms. Lynn’s classroom where his son Dominick and daughter Angelina are students. Mr. Andidora didn’t realize that Read Across America, which had already been postponed from the original March 2 date to March 9 due to a snow day, was again cancelled because of a two-hour delay, so he showed up unexpectedly at the school.
“I didn’t have contact information to find out if it was cancelled, so when I took my kids to school, I went in to read. I didn’t want to disappoint the kids,” explained Mr. Andidora. That dedication to following through on his commitments led to a pleasant and memorable experience for both Mr. Andidora and for the 4th graders he read to.
The book Mr. Andidora read was Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body by author Trish Rabe. Ms. Lynn said that the students enjoyed the book a lot because it connected to the science module they were studying at the time. The book was educational and interesting, but what took place after the reading was even more captivating to the students.
“After Mr. Andidora read and discussed the book with the students, he then allowed some time for them to ask questions. The students were very interested in the duties of a police officer. Mr. Andidora took the time to answer their questions,” said Ms. Lynn.
This year was the first time that Mr. Andidora was a participant at Read Across America, and he didn’t know which book he would be sharing with the children until he arrived. “This was my first experience doing it. She called me the day before and said she was sorry it was short notice, but I was thrilled to do it,” he recounted.
“I didn’t know what I was going to read. I was handed the book when I walked in. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I had a blast with the kids,” Mr. Andidora continued. Despite not knowing what to expect, he did have the foresight to bring some treats for the students, including lollipops, pencils, and sticker badges.
The entire experience was enjoyable for the man who spends his days keeping the city streets safe, but he was most impressed with the students’ questions about his career once the formal reading and book discussion were complete.
“I was impressed by the questions the kids were asking about my job. I spent a lot of time talking to them and was impressed by the level of questions and their thinking. I think this is a reflection of the quality of the teachers in the Carbondale schools,” said Mr. Andidora.
Ms. Lynn had only positive things to say about her classroom’s unexpected, but welcome, visitor. “I did not know it was officially cancelled until the morning of and was not able to reach out to him in time, however, I was happy when he was still able to attend and read to the class,” she stated.
Ms. Lynn continued, “It was a great experience for the students. They were equally as excited as I was to have a guest reader, especially being the father of two classmates and a local policeman. I think it’s very important for the students to see local law enforcement taking time out of their day and taking interest in the students' education. We would welcome Mr. Andidora again next year!”
Mr. Andidora, who was very pleased with the way his first Read Across America attempt unfolded, shares the teacher’s enthusiasm. “I would love to do it again!” he stated with gusto.