OKLAHOMA CITY — Former First Lady Barbara Bush fired up her laptop to visit with students from Briarwood Elementary School on Monday. The “virtual” visit is part of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s recognition of International Literacy Day, recognized each year on September 8th, which focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. In the U.S. alone, 30 million adults possess literacy skills no greater than those of a a fifth-grader.
Because of Mrs. Bush’s passion for reading and helping families learn together, she enjoys using Skype technology to reach students across the country. Mrs. Bush, especially moved by stories from the Moore community after it suffered unimaginable losses from a tornado last May, accepted an invitation from Briarwood Elementary to visit with students and raise their spirits. The school has a temporary home within the Emmaus Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
“While I couldn’t make it in person, I can show students that this 88-year old grandmother is still ‘with it’ by connecting with them virtually,” Mrs. Bush said. “But mostly, I want them to know I care about them and their ability to keep learning. Even though they are starting the new school year in a temporary home, it’s important that they focus on the joy of learning. I want them to know I’m proud of their courage and the work they are all doing to rebuild schools and lives in their hometown.”
The entire student body of Briarwood Elementary was able to be a part of the Skype event where Mrs. Bush and students talked about rebuilding efforts of the school and the importance of lifelong learning.
“We are honored to have Mrs. Bush visit with the students and teachers at Briarwood Elementary,” said Dr. Shelley Jaques-McMillin, school principal. “Her support of our children and for their learning is an inspiration to all of us. We are blessed to have met her.”
In addition to the elementary students, local teens were on hand to tell Mrs. Bush about a new Barbara Bush Foundation Teen Trendsetters program being established at Southmoore High School. This fall, approximately 20 teens will begin weekly, one-on-one mentoring sessions with a secnd or thirrd-grader at Briarwood to help boost their reading skills.
The teens also showed Mrs. Bush children’s books being donated to Briarwood. The books were collected through a partnership between Phillips 66 and the Barbara Bush Foundation at last weekend’s AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game between Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. Fans were urged to bring books restock library shelves.