With Turn the Page!, a new citywide reading event, the end game isnt just getting people to read, its getting people to think about educating Alexandrias youth in a whole new way.
The idea for the reading group came about during a conversation in August between the then-brand new Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Morton Sherman and Melynda Wilcox, chair of the Alexandria PTA Council.
Unlike many community reads, Wilcox said, this effort was designed specifically to discuss education and to get the broader community involved. From the start, organizers hoped to bring people into the fold from outside the traditionally interested groups like teachers, parents and PTA members.
As such, this first edition of Turn the Page!, organized and sponsored by Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the Alexandria PTA Council (PTAC), centers on a common reading of the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.
In the book, Pink writes about the ways in which peoples minds are evolving and the ways in which right brain qualities have come to be influential in todays world. Already a best seller, Wilcox said that many people participating have already read the book but still want to be involved in the reading project.
Pink, who is an acquaintance of Shermans, is coming to Alexandria to give a free talk on February 24 about the book and its subject matter. Because of his relationship with Sherman and the efforts of the organizers, Pink offered to forego his normal five-figure speaking fee.
A recent interview with Pink airs on ACPS-TV Channel 71 three times each day (noon, 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.) and is also available for viewing any time on the ACPS website (www.acps.k12.va.us).
Wilcox said that roughly 300 people took advantage of registering before January 5, which guaranteed them a free copy of the book. An additional hundred or so people signed up after that date, bringing the total number involved to over 400.
Ron Eanes, an ACPS reading specialist, offered to be a group facilitator and saw a benefit to talking about the books themes with other members of the community.
I thought the book sounded interesting and innovative, said Eanes prior to a group meeting on February 2. It might end up being a good tool to use in planning for the future for our students.
There are a number of public meetings throughout February, three phone-in telemeetings, and other private reading group meetings planned as part of the new citywide reading event. Pinks February 24 talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. at T.C. Williams High School.