The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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February 23, 2001 Issue
Local News

Principal preaches love of books

Green Bay principal honored for passing on love of books

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Barbara Schneider, principal at St. Thomas More School, Green Bay, will do almost anything to get students to read. For example, she once donned a pig costume to promote "Pig Out on Books," a school reading campaign during National Library Week.

"The students were encouraged to read as many minutes as possible during the week and keep a reading log," explained Schneider. "The student who read the most minutes got to go out to lunch with the principal. The top three received books and everybody who participated received a bookmark. I've always really pushed reading with the kids."

Schneider was recently honored for her innovative ways of promoting literacy and reading with the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA).

Schneider won the state award after being honored regionally by the Greater Bayland Reading Council. Mary Hemminger, a teacher at St. Thomas More, which serves students from St. Mary of the Angels, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral and Ss. Peter and Paul parishes on Green Bay's east side, nominated Schneider.

"I felt that she does so much to encourage reading that she deserved to be recognized," said Hemminger. "She is such an advocate for not only students reading, but for the parents to get involved in reading with their children."

Each month, Schneider reads to classes in her office. She carefully picks a book with a good message.

"They discover the message of the book on their own," said Schneider. "People think that once a child is able to read that you should stop reading to them, but it is still important to share the gift of reading with them. I have found that many children's books have great messages for middle school kids."

The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau is a favorite book of Schneider's, which she shares with the students.

"It is a wonderful story about a king who wants everything," said Schneider. "He wants to buy a beautiful quilt from the quiltmaker, but cannot because the only people who receive quilts from her are those who really need them."

"I also encourage students toread different types of books including poetry," she added. "The teachers may have the students read biographies to accompany what they are learning in class. Reading opens up a whole new world. At home, reading can create bonding between a parent and child. You can't curl up with a computer the same way you can curl up with a book."

Schneider also promotes professional reading to her staff. Each summer, teachers at St. Thomas More are required to buy and read a professional book and report on the resource text when the staff meets before the start of the next school year.

"Through our faculty book reviews, we have created a professional library," said Hemminger.

The award is not only a personal honor, but also an honor for St. Thomas More School, said Schneider. She encourages more Catholic school educators to join reading organizations.

"I am proud that they selected a Catholic school administrator," she said. "There is not a lot of involvement in these organizations by Catholic schools. I hope that more choose to participate in the future. I find our local reading council very worthwhile."

Schneider shares the plaque she received with the students. Her greatest reward is seeing young people develop a love for reading.

"I once received a note from an eighth grader written in a Christmas card," said Schneider. "It read 'You probably don't realize what it means to me that you take the time to read to us.' I still have the card."

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