Community Powers Mayberry's One Book, One School Program
Posted on 04/17/2023
Mayberry students with Almost Super book

Students at Mayberry Elementary School are learning about the power of community through this year’s One Book, One School reading initiative. Throughout the month of March, the entire school read the book Almost Super by Marion Jensen, a story about a family with superpowers who realize how to be their own kind of heroes. 

Sponsored by the Larson Family Foundation, all Mayberry students received a free copy of the book and were encouraged to participate in literacy-based activities. These included in person read-alouds during the school day with special guest readers and shared online chapter recordings to follow along with at home.

“The kids are excited about reading and excited about doing it together,” said Mayberry Principal Joseph LeRoy. “The biggest thing for the kids is it’s allowed them to make connections while reading the book. They’re talking about superpowers, so they’re asking, ‘What’s your superpower? Are you kind? Are you empathetic?’”

But LeRoy said the program is about more than the book. He said it’s about bringing the community together and providing a structure by which people who aren’t Mayberry staff or parents can engage with the school. Guest readers, from legislators to local news personalities, got to share about themselves and their interests with the students.

“Everyone who comes in has a story,” said LeRoy.

Many of the guest readers were students and faculty members from the University of Saint Joseph (USJ), a partner school to Mayberry. Dr. Dianna Wentzell, Director of Clinical Practice at USJ’s Dept. of Education, invited her first-year seminar students to read to Mayberry students to earn service hours. Education students were also eager for the opportunity to be a part of the program.

“It’s so easy for us to bring our students here because everyone here feels like part of the team,” said Dr. Wentzell. “Our students came, some faculty came and read, and it’s just infectious. Those who came early on in the month kept coming back.”

LeRoy said, “It was a really positive, enjoyable experience for everyone, but most importantly for the kids.”

Special thanks to the following people who volunteered as guest readers and supported the program: Sen. Saud Anwar, Rep. Jason Rojas, Rep. Jeff Currey, Mayor Mike Walsh, Superintendent Nathan Quesnel, WFSB Anchor Mark Zinni, Nancy Larson, Tim Larson, Chris Larson, Matthew Larson, Mary Onidi, Megan Fitzgerald, Sharon Fitzgerald, Maura Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Sked, USJ President Rhona Free, USJ Provost Michelle Kalis, Dr. Dianna Wentzell and University of Saint Joseph students and staff.