WHO: Belinda George, the principal of Homer Drive Elementary School in Beaumont.
WHAT: An evening bedtime story for all of her students, which she streams on the school’s Facebook page from her living room every Tuesday.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: The 42-year-old first-year principal told the Washington Post that she started the tradition of “Tucked In Tuesdays” because she loves kids and wants to reach them—and if she can talk to them at home, she can have a bigger impact at school. There’s been a lot of research about the benefits of reading to kids—developing literacy skills, increasing empathy, increasing vocabulary—as well as the personal connection that’s forged between the reader and the listener. By putting on her PJs every Tuesday at 7:30pm and sharing a book aloud, George ensures that each kid gets at least one story read to them every week. “I don’t know if they are read to or not at home,” she told the paper. But her students are watching (often with their parents), and bringing that connection into school with them. “Kids will come up to me Wednesday and say, ‘Dr. George, I saw you in your PJs reading!'”
The project has become something of a phenomenon for local families, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. The local paper talked to Keava Turner, who has four kids, including two Homer Drive students. All of them are captivated by the weekly Facebook stream. “I love it because all of my children watch it. I have a fourteen-year-old, a third-grader and first-grader who go to Homer, and my ten-month-old even sits still to watch,” she told the Enterprise. It’s not just locals who are watching—as the Post reports, parents and teachers from around the country have started tuning in, with some of George’s Tuesday evening storytimes drawing thousands of viewers.
“Social media” and “elementary school children” aren’t concepts that go together naturally, and kids’ Facebook use is a scary prospect for parents. But the ability to forge a deeper connection is one of the greatest strengths of social media, and George has figured out a healthy, charming, clever way to use that power to deepen her young scholars’ love of learning.