Reader leaders

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, March 3, 2012

Albert Lea police officer Tim Harves calls on a pupil in Drew Wanzek’s first-grade class after asking why reading is important when children grow up. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Click here to see a gallery.

Albert Lea police officer Tim Harves asked a class of first-graders at a Sibley Elementary School on Friday what they wanted to be when they grew up.

One said she wanted to be a designer. Another, an author. And another, a veterinarian.

For each, Harves explained why reading is important, whether ordering design supplies, crafting a novel or knowing what kind of medicine is in a bottle.

Email newsletter signup

Harves, speaking to Drew Wanzek’s students, was among several local leaders who read books to Sibley students Friday for the second annual Community Leaders Are Sibley Readers event. The list ranged from state Rep. Rich Murray to United Way Director Ann Austin.

The program is coordinated by Linda Bottelson, volunteer coordinator at Sibley for the Minnesota Reading Corps.

“We want to give community leaders the chance to come to school to see how important reading is in people’s lives,” she said.

It was a big week for reading. Sibley students dressed in their casual reading clothes Friday, whether pajamas, sweats or any comfy clothes. Some brought plush toys. They had dressed as Dr. Seuss characters on Thursday and as favorite book characters on Wednesday.

Lawyer Bob Sturtz said reading and comprehension are needed every day in his profession. His father, Judge William R. Sturtz, told him, as the young Sturtz was going into law school at Hamline University in 1984, that: “The importance of the education you get is being able to read, write and understand the English language properly.”

But when he spoke with the kindergartners before reading “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” he put it more simply. He said his father “always told him reading and writing was very important.”

Mary Williams, the director of teaching and learning for Albert Lea Area Schools, said reading is integral to learning. The district needs all children reading well by third grade because so much of their education beyond that level relies on reading comprehension.

Mario Olson’s third-graders read books all day Friday. They were spread out all over the room, reading book after book after book. The class favorite was “Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss.

Harves told the children if they want to be a police officer, reading and writing are required.

“There is not hardly anything I do that I don’t have to go back to the station and write a report,” he said.


Community Leaders Are Sibley Readers

Name Job

Bob Sturtz attorney

Brad Skinness banker

Trevor DeRaad firefighter

Jordan DeVries firefighter

Ryan Shea sheriff’s deputy

Rich Murray state representative

Tim Harves police officer

Pat Stumme volunteer

Dan Dorman economic developer

Susie Petersen tourism promoter

Mary Williams educator

Ann Austin nonprofit director

Amanda Weiss nonprofit worker

Susie Hulst fitness director

Ole Olson soldier

Mike Funk superintendent

Jean Jordan principal

Scott Schmeltzer publisher


About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

email author More by Tim