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 Students with Special Needs Celebrate Reading

​Students with special needs celebrated reading and Dr. Seuss’ birthday recently at two San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) schools in South County.

The festivities, inspired by the national Read Across America event, commenced Feb. 27 at Friendship School, which serves students who are medically fragile and have several disabilities. Several people, including, teachers, parents and SDCOE employees volunteered to read to the students for an hour.

“We’re really trying to make sure our kids get the same opportunities as everyone else,” Principal Diana Lynn said.

Educators at the Imperial Beach school have been holding their version of the event, which they named Everybody Reads, for about five years. This year, they dressed up as the Dr. Seuss character the Lorax, complete with fake moustaches and bright colors.

Teachers at Davila Day School held their own event March 3. The school serves students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Some classrooms there had volunteers reading stories aloud. Another volunteer told the stories through sign language.

“The kids love it,” said Christina Neal, coordinator at the school. “It’s a special treat for them.”

After the readings, the students dressed up as characters from books and had a parade around their small school. The school shares a campus with Vista Square Elementary School in Chula Vista.

The parade is part of a tradition Davila Day School shared for years with the elementary school. About five years ago, when the Vista Square Elementary stopped doing the parade, educators at Davila Day School decided to continue it themselves.

Russell Coronado, one of the volunteers, said he loves seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as he reads them stories. Also, it’s a good way to stress the importance of literacy and highlight how fun reading can be, said Coronado, senior director of the South County Special Education Local Plan Area​.

“It’s good for them to see someone else reading besides their teacher,” he said.

Schools across the nation celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday on or near March 2 each year as part of Read Across America. The National Education Association started the event in 1998 to get children excited about reading.



Top: Vadja Kolombotovic, a retired teacher, volunteers to tell stories using American Sign Language to students at Davila Day School March 3 as part of a celebration of reading.

Bottom: Melody Rodriguez, a teacher at Friendship School, reads to students there Feb. 27 as part of their Everybody Reads event.