First Lady Sandra Deal was recently joined by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs to visit The Academy Child Development Center in Oakwood, marking Mrs. Deal’s 1,000th school visit since Gov. Nathan Deal took office in 2011.
“My goal is to encourage students to enjoy reading so that they will be prepared for a lifetime of learning,” said Mrs. Deal. “Reading is the gift that keeps on giving and education is essential for all children to succeed in their pursuits. I believe that knowledge is power and when we teach students to love reading, we give them the confidence to learn on their own and acquire that power far into the future.”
As a former teacher of 15 years in Georgia public schools, Mrs. Deal is dedicated to promoting statewide childhood literacy. In total, Mrs. Deal has completed 1,000 school visits in all 159 counties and all 181 public school districts during her time as Georgia’s first lady. When visiting a school, Mrs. Deal typically meets with office staff, reads to a class of students, recognizes educators and discusses the importance of childhood literacy. She has visited as many as eight schools in a single day.
“Since Gov. Deal took office, Mrs. Deal has demonstrated her passion for childhood literacy and inspired others through her hard work,” said Chris Riley, Gov. Deal’s chief of staff. “By reading to students and listening intently, Mrs. Deal connects with students and guides them to see the importance of academic achievement. I’m not surprised that she reached the 1,000th visit threshold so quickly, but I look forward to seeing how the imaginations she sparked will shape the future of Georgia.”
Earlier in the day, Mrs. Deal joined author, UGA football alum and Super Bowl LI champion Malcolm Mitchell for a reading rally at Chicopee Woods Elementary School. Mrs. Deal then read to pre-K classes at Mundy Mill Academy in Gainesville.
“Over the past eight years, Mrs. Deal has been a champion for Georgia’s youngest learners and their families,” said Commissioner Jacobs. “She and Gov. Deal have made early childhood education a top priority by emphasizing the importance of reading on grade-level by the third grade, and we are forever grateful.”
Mrs. Deal is a co-chair of the Georgia Literacy Commission, which hosts a series of symposiums to examine and improve low literacy rates. She also plays a significant role in “Read Across Georgia Month” during March and has partnered with the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, an initiative that aims to have all of Georgia’s students reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade. In September 2017, the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy opened with the mission of improving Georgia’s literacy rates through research-based practices and providing support for educators in K-3 classrooms, child care centers and preschools.