WINDSOR TERRACE — The Third Annual Great Diocesan Read-Aloud (GDRA) was another success across the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Guest speakers, including authors, clergy members, first responders, and congresswomen, virtually visited 30 diocesan classes to read their favorite stories to the students.
This year’s GDRA — sponsored by Catholic Telemedia Network (CTN), part of the education division at DeSales Media Group that provides curriculum-based instructional media resources that support the educators — was held during the week of March 15, in celebration of March Into Literacy Month.
The objective is to continue connecting literacy with the technology that is in parish schools and Catholic academy classrooms across the diocese, according to Laura Hickey, senior instructional technology specialist at CTN and organizer of the GDRA.
“Three years ago, CTN started with this idea to promote the love of reading and how technology can connect us to the outside world,” Hickey said. “The goal was to open up that door and spark the idea of different ways teachers could use the technology in their classrooms for the different projects.”
Currents News anchor Christine Persichette remotely visited the second grade at Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy, as well as to the second grade at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy. She explained that her love for reading and writing developed while attending St. Rita School in Long Island City, Queens.
“I always loved to read, to write, and to tell stories, which is what I do now for a living,” Persichette said. “I chose to read Richard E. Specht Jr.’s ‘A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness’ to the students because I thought it would be the perfect book to share.”
“The book’s message about being kind, which is so important, is something you learn in Catholic schools,” she added.
Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington, vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, read a chapter from E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’ to fifth-graders at St. Sebastian Catholic Academy. He explained he chose the 1952 book because it addresses complex themes — like change — that are still being faced today.
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose constituency covers Staten Island and South Brooklyn, read Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’ to the kindergarten class at Bay Ridge Catholic Academy. Congresswoman Grace Meng — who grew up in Queens and represents New York’s 6th congressional district in Queens — read Susan Meddaugh’s ‘Martha Calling’ to Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy’s first-grade classes. Both congresswomen captured the students’ attention through their storytelling, illustration showings, and brief question-and-answer sessions after the readings.
The GDRA initiative, according to Hickey, has come a long way in just three short years.
“We were rolling out the DeSales Technology Grant, getting iPad and Chromebook devices into the classrooms, and had teachers setting up Skype accounts to hear readings done from DeSales Media’s offices,” Hickey recalled, noting how “new” the technology was then. “Not only has the list of readers grown but this year it was amazing to see how much the technology improved. Everyone is so tech-savvy now because of the pandemic.”
She continued, saying, “Even if some students were home and some were in the classroom, everybody had the chance to jump in and listen — regardless of where they were learning from.”