Students Share Love of Reading at Niner University Elementary

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Bethany Mavromatis slowed in the hallway of Niner University Elementary (NUE) to compose herself, closed her eyes, breathed deeply, and wiped the tears away. She crossed the threshold of her assigned classroom as a buzzing group waited. She took a seat and opened “The Last Stop on Market Street.”

“CJ pushed through the church doors, skipped down the steps,” she read. “The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt and dripped down his nose.”

As she turned the pages, students shared ideas, popping up from their seats on the bright carpet. The read-aloud even broke into a spirited debate on the colors of the rainbow.

“I was actually incredibly nervous!” said Mavromatis, a psychology major who was stationed in Bahrain and Greece with the U.S. Navy from 2015-2019. “Nothing in the military prepared me for how nervous I would be to read to kindergarteners!”

Mavromatis joined more than a dozen UNC Charlotte students, faculty and staff who visited the University’s elementary school in December for the annual Love of Reading event. Volunteers from the UNC Charlotte chapters of the Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi honors societies read to students and donated a book selected by teachers to classroom libraries. All NUE students also received a bookmark with a QR code to access a virtual library created by KDP and PKP members. 

“The second I sat down at Niner University Elementary and saw students’ eyes eager for story time, I was instantly excited to do it. There’s something so magical about children, and giving them the tools of literacy you can hopefully watch the next generation go even farther than you have,” Mavromatis said.

Before read-ins, which KDP and PKP have held annually since 2019, volunteers practice reading their book with scaffolded comprehension questions to ask students. KDP chapter’s co-counselor Debra Diegmann coordinates the project in collaboration with the KDP service chair and PKP’s student vice presidents.

Engineering student and PKP vice president Timi Adeosun said he was thrilled to participate.

“As an honor society, our overarching goal is to enhance academic excellence and literacy at all levels including young learners. The event provided an ideal platform for us to contribute actively to fostering a love for learning in the Charlotte community.”

The Love of Reading (LOR) Project for 2023-24 school year includes three read-ins: the December event and additional sessions February 9th and March 22nd at Niner University Elementary.

“At NUE we strive to have every child on grade level,” said Principal Pamela Broome. “Exposure to books and hearing fluent readers is a crucial part of reading development, and there is nothing quite like seeing a young person discover the joy of reading.”

Learn more about how UNC Charlotte is leading in literacy

Volunteers for December’s read-in:

KDP: Pamela Courtney, Alexandria Sawyer, Abigail Ahrens, Morgan Pressley, Chelse Spinner, Emma Roundy, Liana Devoe, Jena Degioanni, Misty Hathcock, Debra Diegmann

PKP: Stephanie Norander, Adriana Medina, Stephanie Norander, Bethany Mavromatis, Timi Adeosun, Shankari Somayaji