Mayor Sullivan reads to students at Abner Gibbs

WESTFIELD – Mayor Brian Sullivan was among the 38 community volunteers who participated in the Reach Out And Read (ROAR) program in all seven Westfield elementary schools on Wednesday.
Sullivan went to the Abner Gibbs Elementary School to read “The First Step” by Susan E. Goodman to Kathleen Hedge’s combined fourth and fifth grade class. The book, which begins in 1847, is the true story of a young African-American girl whose long fight for equality eventually helped lead Boston to become the first American city to desegregate its schools. The country would follow 100 years later.
“It’s an interesting story for me to read right now. I have to understand that change takes forever sometimes,” Sullivan said following the reading.
He then asked the students if they had any questions about the book or in general that they would like to ask him. Most of the students wanted to ask him about his job.
“What kind of problems do you deal with?” said one student.
“Right now, I’m dealing with a budget problem,” the mayor responded.
“Is being a mayor hard?” asked another.
“It can be hard, but it’s the greatest job I’ve ever had,” Sullivan said.
Other questions for the mayor included how many meetings he has to go to each day, whether he gets frustrated a lot, and what are some of the “funnest” meetings he gets to attend. He responded that he likes to go to Boston to meet with the governor and tell him about Westfield.
Finally, one student asked him who he was supporting for President.
“I don’t have an answer for you, I’m still paying attention,” Sullivan said.
“We love the ROAR program, and having folks come in to the school,” said Abner Gibbs principal Christopher Rogers following the visit.
“Literacy is a huge piece of what we do here at Abner Gibbs. We want to inspire a lifelong love of reaching, and having adults as role models to read to them helps to spark that,” Rogers added.
ROAR, which is in its fifteenth year, is sponsored by a grant from the Shurtleff Children’s Services in Westfield. Books read during the day are donated to the school libraries. The next program will take place in the fall, when volunteers will read to pre-kindergarten through third grade classes. Anyone who wants to volunteer may contact Tina Macy, volunteer coordinator for the district at 413-572-6345 or by email at [email protected].

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