AP NEWS

Book bags help principal expand bedtime reading program

May 8, 2019

Belinda George’s bedtime reading program brought national attention to the pajama-wearing principal and her Homer Drive Elementary School. On Tuesday, it sparked a donation of 14,000 children’s books for the 700 students at the Beaumont ISD campus.

Wells Fargo approached George about a month ago looking for a way to help her get more students involved in her Tucked-in Tuesday program, in which she reads a bedtime story over Facebook Live as students tune in from their homes.

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 20 people from Wells Fargo came to the school and gave each student a red, draw-string backpack filled with 20 books that George will be reading from in the weeks ahead.

George, a first-year principal who began the weekly readings in December and plans to continue them through the summer, said she was grateful to the bank for “recognizing education” in such a tangible way.

“This really is the epitome of No Child Left Behind,” she said.

“Believe it or not, the idea to gift nearly 700 students with the books was brought up through social media,” said Lynne Walters, the bank’s senior vice president and head of strategic operations in Charlotte. The Tucked-In Tuesday series, she said, “just touched my heart.”

Wells Fargo partnered with the educational publisher Scholastic Corp. to provide the books, Walters said.

After a Beaumont Enterprise story in February, George and Tucked-in Tuesdays have been profiled by media outlets from CNN to the Washington Post. She even appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Her Facebook Live videos are viewed across the country.

On Tuesday, her kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students screamed with excitement as they received their books.

“George is such a blessing,” Beaumont Independent School District Superintendent Shannon Allen said. “She has really gone above and beyond and has found creative ways to continue to reach the children even when they aren’t in the classroom.”

Walters planned to join George on Facebook Live that evening. The banker and the educator, dressed in matching onesies, were set up to read to the children George refers to as her “scholars.”

She reflected Tuesday on the program’s national success.

“I think maybe it’s the onesies or my personality, but I’m not sure,” she said. “It’s just such a small act of kindness that has brought the nation together. This event is surreal. If I could repay them I would, but there are not enough coins or dollars to repay them with.”

erica.apodaca@beaumontenterprise.com

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