Jordan Bank Kindergarten Center 'turning the page' with online story time series
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Since the start of the 2019-20 academic year, Dr. David J. Hamburg, the principal at the Jordan Bank Kindergarten Center in Oxford, has been moonlighting as a fireman, a chocolatier, a paint store employee, an electrician high in the sky in a bucket truck and a grain operator climbing up a silo. He has also been seen boxing at the Jennersville YMCA and making pizzas at Bravo Pizza.
Hamburg's activities are part of “Dr. Hamburg & Friends' Turn the Page Tuesday,” an innovative online approach that engages schoolchildren in the power of reading and introduces them to career opportunities, as well.
The weekly, 15-minute program – available on the school's Youtube channel, with a new show every Tuesday – introduces young readers and their families to local leaders in several industries, who read children's books pertinent to their occupation. Now in its 24th episode, each story is complimented by a short interview Hamburg conducts with the reader about his or her career.
The majority of the shows are recorded on site; in the past few months, “Turn the Page Tuesday” has visited Baer Electric, Bravo Pizza, Cameron’s Ace Hardware, Citadel Bank, Flip’s Barbershop, Giant Produce, Hostetter Grain, Inc., the Jennersville YMCA, the Oxford Police, la Communidad Hispana, Neuchatel Chocolatier, Miss Oxford Diner, Sky Cleaners, and the Oxford Firehouse.
“The shift in education is moving toward new mediums and technology, so 'Turn the Page Tuesday' is a way for our school to adapt to that change, and use as a tool to encourage our parents to read to their children, and have their kids read to them,” Hamburg said. “This way, we can assure that at least one night a week, they can be hearing good literature, read by someone in the community, that exposes our children to careers that are right here in the Oxford area.
“The effectiveness of this program is two-fold,” he added. “We're getting our kids college and career ready – even at the age of five – and we're introducing them to a major component of English language arts.”
Hamburg said that the influence that launched “Turn the Page Tuesday” came from a program that had been created by an elementary school principal in Texas, who read stories live online to her schoolchildren from her home, while dressed in her pajamas. Yamilet Fernandez, the Oxford Area School District's translator and projects liaison – and the show's producer, suggested that “Turn the Page Tuesday” take its concept on the road.
It's a win-win for everyone, Fernandez said. “Our readers love the fact that we come to them. It doesn't take them away from their business time, and it promotes their business in the area. They get a mini commercial, and we get a reader.”
Fernandez said the program also helps provide a bridge of connectivity to the Hispanic population, as well. “We are giving our Hispanic students an understanding of just how important reading and education is, by introducing them not just to the story, but to who our readers are, and what they do for a living,” Fernandez said. “Even though our stories are read in English, our Spanish-speaking parents can still talk to their kids after the video is over. It doesn't matter if it's in English or Spanish, they are still receiving the same message that their children are getting – the importance of reading.”
At last check, the show is receiving an average of about 100 views a day.
“Our kids love the series,” said Jordan Bank teacher Cathy Diamond. “I always ask them who saw the latest 'Turn the Page Tuesday' the night before, and I can say that every week, several of our students tell us that they had watched it at home with their family. They will then tell the rest of the class who was on the latest episode, and we'll all watch it together as a class.”
Capitalizing on its success, the vision for “Turn the Page Tuesday” may eventually turn its attention and its cameras to the Oxford Area School District itself.
“We are thinking about showcasing different jobs in the school district, such as custodians, cooks and kitchen aides, secretaries, superintendents, teachers, and nurses, and asking them to become our readers” Fernandez said. “There are so many facets within the district, and it would be amazing to capture all of them.”
The series recently took its cameras outside of Oxford. As Hamburg prepared his family for a vacation, he brought along the book, “Airplane Adventure” to the Philadelphia International Airport, and asked Nicole Grey, a departures coordinator for American Airlines and a Nottingham resident, read the story.
The success of “Turn the Page Tuesday” has earned Hamburg and Fernandez and their readers a miniature celebrity status. Fernandez herself has been called “Miss Turn the Page Tuesday,” and Hamburg is often stopped in the hallways at Jordan Bank by students, who tell him that they saw him high atop the grain silo or making pizza.
“This is my 26th year in education, and my 15th year as an administrator, and creating this series keeps me fresh,” Hamburg said. “This is not about me. This is about our children, and in the process, I become excited and re-energized for what I do every day, and it's one of the many reasons I love my job.”
“This program bridges everyone in our community to our broad diversity, not just in our school but in our local workforce,” Fernandez said. “We have a melting pot in Oxford, and we get to teach our kids that there are so many cultures in the world, and you can touch just about all of them in Oxford.
“'Turn the Page Tuesday' gives our students, our parents and our community the gift to open their eyes and be open to what they can possibly receive.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.