A Week of Reading Events!

Good morning, Johnson community! This week has been extremely busy, with both the Festival of the Book and the Kiss the Pig fundraiser occurring in the library, as well as Reading Under the Stars taking over Johnson this Friday night. So many reading events happening at once – what a wonderful week!

Our Kiss the Pig fundraiser began this Tuesday morning with a bang as both Ms. Rickabaugh and Ms. Croce earned more than $20 in their respective jars by the end of the afternoon! More than 20 teachers volunteered to put their lips on the line for the sake of new books for the library, and each jar has seen at least a few donations over the course of the week. As well as being a fabulous fundraiser for new materials, Kiss the Pig has also grown into a cross-curriculum project for many classes. Students have practiced their persuasive writing skills by creating posters and short speeches in favor of their favorite teacher. Pre-school classes are working with basic math and money skills by having the donation jars visit their classroom and donating their coins one at a time. Fourth grade students have used free classroom and indoor recess time to count the donated money each day, recording the dollars earned and ranking the teachers in order from most donations to least.

The fundraiser has also been a great learning experience for me. In reaching out to local farmers and businesses to find a pig to participate in our results assembly next week, I have learned a huge amount about pigs! Did you know that pigs are highly sensitive animals, and that too much sound and attention could cause them physical harm? Also, did you know that human germs like cold and flu can be transmitted to pigs, possibly making them sick? Because of these limitations and our local farmers’ passion for the safety and well-being of their beloved animals, finding a pig that fits our event has been no easy task. It looks like we may have the piggies arranged to save the day, and a back-up plan in order just in case things don’t work out. This fundraiser has been a great way to earn money and generate excitement about the Johnson  Library, but it’s also a valuable opportunity to teach respect and compassion for animals. We are looking forward to meeting some piggie friends next week, but only if we know that the animals will be safe and comfortable when they visit our school. I will be working with students this week on quiet clapping and whisper cheers, as keeping a low noise level is very important for our animal friends. Please practice these silent celebrations with your students over the next week so that they are prepared to give our lucky pigs a wonderful visit!

Perhaps the most exciting update in our Kiss the Pig fundraiser is the fact that the PTO has gotten involved – and they REALLY want to see a teacher kiss a pig! The Johnson Elementary School PTO has volunteered to MATCH every dollar donated to the library – meaning that every donation that you make counts for DOUBLE! If you toss a quarter in a jar, we’ve just earned $.50 towards new books for the library. So search under those car seats, check all of your pockets, and shake out your piggy banks! We will have one more week of Kiss the Pig to go, and I can’t wait to see what we can do if we keep working together to support reading at Johnson.

The Festival of the Book events taking place at Johnson began yesterday afternoon with a visit from Mr. Alex-Zan. This high energy, interactive performance for our third and fourth grade students featured Charles “Alex-Zan” Alexander, a member of the original Charlottesville Twelve. With a captivating mix of history, motivational speaking, humor, and music, Mr. Alex-Zan told students about his life, his greatest accomplishments, and his best advice for reaching their dreams. My favorite part about Mr. Alex-Zan’s presentation was his message that everyone matters, and that our choices every day affect our success later in life. He spoke highly of respect, pride, and hard work – three things that we truly value at Johnson.


Tomorrow, the Festival of the Book continues with two more author visits, spanning the entire Johnson student body. At 9 AM, we will have a visit from Alison Formento, an author that tackles a subject near and dear to Johnson students’ hearts – nature! Ms. Formento’s books, including These Bees Count, This Tree Counts, and These Seas Count, are a fun combination of counting practice and non-fiction text. This week, I shared These Bees Count with my K-1 classes, and we had some great discussion about the importance of honeybees, as well as other tiny bugs that we rarely notice but that do so much for us everyday. We also created a special gift to share with Ms. Formento when she visits – which we will share with you later!

At 12:30, third and fourth grade students will get to hear a presentation from Deborah Heiligman, author of many books including her newest biography, The Boy Who Loved Math. This colorful and interesting biography has earned major critical acclaim for it’s kid-friendly explanation of mathematician Paul Erdos and his work around the world. Third and fourth grade students have spent the week reading the text, researching the author, and brainstorming questions for Ms. Heiligman to ask during her presentation’s Q&A session. A few lucky students will get to ask their questions to the author directly!

After school tomorrow, Johnson will be blasted into outer space with the reading team’s Reading Under the Stars Event. Although many parent and student questions regarding this event have been directed towards me, this event is thanks to the imagination and hard work of Johnson’s Reading team. From 5-7:30 PM, March 21st, Johnson will be transformed with a planetarium, space books, and other space themed activities for Johnson students and families. When students arrive, each will receive a “stargazer passport” (look for me at this table!), which will help to guide them through the many exciting activities available. These activities include the planetarium, crafts, reading activities, snacks, and a free space-related book to take home! The evening will conclude with student poetry readings from the winners of Johnson’s space poetry contest. I can’t wait to hear the winning poems! This event provides a fabulous opportunity for families to get together to celebrate reading, and a love for science! Many Johnson teachers will be there to help out, and we can’t wait to see some familiar student and family faces participating. A flyer detailing Reading Under the Stars should have come home recently with your student. I hope to see everyone here at Johnson from 5:00-7:30. And don’t forget… you can cozy up and wear your PJs to read under the stars!

– Miss Messham

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