Stone Mill Elementary students read with a cat in a hat

Stone Mill Elementary Principal Marchell Boston talks to students about reading.

Stone Mill Elementary students can read in a hat. They can read with a cat. They can listen to a man. They can visit a van.

And that’s just what they did March 13 when the National Education Association’s (NEA) Cat-a-Van Reading Tour stopped at the school.

During a special assembly, students, wearing the signature red-and-white stovepipe hats, recited familiar parts of Green Eggs and Ham as David Tjaden, NEA’s student program chairman, read the book to them.

“I like Green Eggs and Ham because it tells all about trying things, trying different kinds of food,” said second-grader Jniya Green after the program.


DeKalb school board Chairman Melvin Johnson and school board member Karen Carter attended the event, both wearing stovepipe hats.

“I’m here today to celebrate,” Johnson said. “It’s important because this is a very select group here today. To be selected by the NEA to come to a DeKalb County school is exceptional. We’re just excited that they chose this particular school.”

Carter said, “It is exciting to be here with these students in particular because we’re celebrating reading. I get out maybe once every two weeks to spend time with children in schools when I’m invited but this is a particularly exciting celebration because we’re celebrating reading and what better way to do that with than Dr. Seuss.”

Stone Mill Elementary receives a $500 donation.
Stone Mill Elementary receives a $500 donation.

This is the third consecutive year the NEA reading tour, cosponsored by the Organization of DeKalb Educators, has come to DeKalb. From sponsor Renaissance Dental, each student received a gift bag with a toothbrush, brushing timer, floss, pencil, sticker, bookmark and a copy of Cat in the Hat. The school received a $500 check.

“It always does my heart good to come and visit one of our great public schools and see firsthand the wonderful work our students and staff are doing,” said Calvine Rollins, president of the Georgia Association of Educators.

Students meet the Cat in the Hat. Photos by Travis Hudgons
Students meet the Cat in the Hat. Photos by Travis Hudgons


“Spending time sitting down to read a book or two with the children during this time is one of the highlights of my travels,” she said. “This event and all of the planned events for Read Across America are symbolic gestures that…remind us just how critical it is to help our students develop a love for reading early in their lives.

“It’s that strong reading foundation that provides the best chance for success in academics and in life,” Rollins said.

Or as Sirr Gathers, 7, said, reading is important “so you can become smart.”

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