“I’ve always loved working with children, and it felt like the right thing to do,” Susan Haag says enthusiastically about answering her call to teach. Haag works for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as a Title I educator and reading specialist for kindergarten to fourth-grade students. With 30 years of teaching experience, Haag is confident that the Cleveland Schools Book Fund is changing lives.
By taking advantage of resources offered by the book fund, Haag has seen students and their families thrive, noting that CSBF solves the problem of accessibility by providing “quality literature for students to read in their homes. So many of my students and their families don’t have quality books to read.”
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems is one literary example of what teachers and parents can expect when partnering with CSBF. Willems’ writing style, according to Haag, is beloved by her students. She believes his books, along with other titles such as the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel, cultivate the children’s love for reading.
When Haag’s students complete book reports, they are permitted to take the book home as a gift, but the real reward can be seen high up on the classroom wall. “I’m encouraging the families to send me a photograph [of the child reading] via email or text, and I display them on my bulletin board. I’m trying to encourage reading throughout the community, and the children like to see their picture on the board,” she explains.
Every time a student’s photograph is displayed, it creates a domino effect, motivating more children to read at home with their loved ones. Haag believes that her bulletin board of photographs helps her students feel proud and excited to see themselves, which generates a cycle of positive reinforcement connected with reading.
As a reading specialist, Haag makes it her mission to assist children who experience difficulty while learning to read. The Cleveland Schools Book Fund, she finds, transforms reading for her students, dramatically improving their vocabulary and comprehension.
On February 27, at the Snow Road library, the book fund will host its professional development program for Cleveland Municipal School District teachers, starting at 4:30 p.m. Haag says that she always looks forward to the event and values the informative resources presented by Dr. Sharon Brown and the speakers.
The Cleveland Schools Book Fund has created meaningful memories for Haag, one of the most memorable being a field trip with her students to the Cleveland Playhouse to watch a live performance based on a book read in class. “I would strongly recommend the program because the students benefit so much from what the book fund has to offer,” Haag says. “They’re proud that they have their own library.”