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