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Mayor Lauretti Takes on Dr. Seuss, Susanna Wesley Students Learn "The Foolish Turtle"

Mayor Mark A. Lauretti participated in the Valley's 3rd annual "Read Across America Day" Monday by sharing his talents with pre-schoolers at the Shelton School Readiness Program.

Mayor Mark A. Lauretti joined dozens of area dignitaries across the Naugatuck Valley Monday to instill a love of reading in children.

Lauretti visited the Shelton School Readiness Program classroom located in TEAM’s Early Care & Education Center on Howe Avenue, and read a classic Dr. Seuss favorite to a wide-eyed and captive audience of three to five years olds.

Lauretti’s visit was part of the Valley’s third annual “Read Across America Day,” which is dubbed “a party with a purpose that gets kids of all ages excited about reading.” The  event, celebrated each year in conjunction with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, was expected to draw more than 45 million participants nationwide.

Armed with a copy of “There’s A Wocket In My Pocket,” Lauretti charmed the young crowd with the wacky tale of rhymes. When Lauretti spoke of a “wasket in my basket” or a “zlock in my clock,” the group of pre-schoolers erupted in laughter.

Lauretti quipped that he can relate better to kids, than with adults.

As a father of four himself, Lauretti knows firsthand the importance of instilling a love of reading in children at a young age.

“Reading is the key to success, no question about it,” Lauretti said. “I’ve been a big proponent of the basics in education, and there are two things you take with you everyday, and that’s reading and math.”

TEAM President and CEO Richard Knoll got a kick out of the children squealing in delight, as they hung on Lauretti’s every word. Knoll said the staff of the readiness program do “an amazing job” honing a love of reading and more in the youngsters. And the “Read Across America” program only further “promotes how important it is for children to engage in reading,” Knoll added.

Knoll said there are 15 readiness classrooms located in the area, from Beacon Falls to Milford, which are state-subsidized. He said the Shelton facility has been here for about two and a half years, and was born out of a need the nearby Trinity Lutheran Church had, in an effort to reach out even more to the community.

Debbie Pozarlik, head teacher at the Shelton facility, along with assistant teacher Kathy Sembrowich, were thrilled to welcome Lauretti to the classroom. Both said the children spent two weeks delving into the world of Dr. Seuss, and were anxious to hear their city’s mayor read to them. Many of the children sported dressy clothes for the occasion, as well, including one little boy who compared his tie with Lauretti’s.

“The children are very excited about learning,” Pozarlik said.

And no sooner than Lauretti left, the kids were right back to their current lesson, where they’ve been learning all about Egypt. The children, so far, have created colorful paper pyramids, donned traditional Pharaoh costumes and stacked plastic pyramids in mini-sandboxes.

Over at , twenty eager preschoolers crowded into the nursery of the and learned the tale of “The Foolish Tortoise” from Pat Banfe, the vice-chair of the and a retired teacher. She filled in for State Representative Jason Perillo, who was unable to make it to the reading Monday morning.

The kids, who were a veritable font of wisdom about all things reptile, piqued up with a snippet of information about tortoises and their habits with every turn of the page.

“I really enjoyed this, it was nice,” said Banfe. “They were so cute.”

The kids, who were a veritable font of wisdom about all things reptile, piqued up with a snippet of information about tortoises and their habits with every turn of the page.

“Thanks for meeting us,” said one of the preschoolers as they were leaving.

The Valley’s participation in the reading event was organized by the Early Childhood Task Force of the Valley Council for Health and Human Services, with assistance from the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, who recruited area legislators to read. More than 40 area legislators, school superintendents, mayors and educators began their day at a kick-off breakfast at John J. Sullivan’s Restaurant in Ansonia, before heading out to various school readiness classrooms and schools to read to children. The event was also made possible thanks to the Valley Community Foundation and

Pam Lorenzo, chairwoman of the Early Childhood Task Force, spoke during the breakfast kick-off, reiterating how critical reading is for children.

“Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers,” said Lorenzo. “Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.”

“I think it’s a wonderful program,” said Roberta Cenci, School Director at Susanna
Wesley School.

Susanna Wesley School will also be holding their fourth annual art show on April 4th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. to showcase some of the artwork of their 143 students.

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