Quitman Upper Elementary Debuts Ben Carson Reading Room

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Quitman, Miss. It's the first in the state of Mississippi and its home is Quitman Upper Elementary School. From fiber optics to now innovative reading, Quitman is leading the way when it comes to education. The school and members of the community welcomed the new addition of a Ben Carson Reading Room in a grand opening ceremony that was attended by countless individuals and thanks to the book "Gifted Hands", the room is a reality.

" I was actually reading Ben Carson's book Gifted Hands and I saw the idea that he had for the reading rooms," Quitman Schools Finance Coordinator Elisa Mayo said. "I knew right away that that was something that God wanted us to have for the children here. It was the best thing we could provide for them, so I immediately came back and went to the Phil Hardin Foundation and the QSD Imagination Library with the idea and both of them sponsored the Ben Carson Reading Room for us."

The room is described as a place designed to encourage young people to discover the joy of independent reading in a warm, inviting atmosphere and to THINK BIG.

"What I hope that our children get from that is that they need to think outside the box and they need to think that there is nothing they can't achieve and that reading is the way to get them where they would like to be and the dreams they might have for themselves," Quitman Schools Superintendent Suzanne Hawley said.

While the room provides an atmosphere that encourages reading, Principal James Kelley says it's meant to be a way to get kids to enjoy a book.

"There is no expectations," Kelley said. "Just come in and read, bring your parents in and let them read to you. It's a fun time, nothing required."

Kelley says each teacher is allotted two thirty minute blocks to bring their students into the reading room. He says the only rule is to read for enjoyment.

The first Ben Carson Reading Room was founded in 2000 in Aberdeen, Maryland. It opened at Hall's Cross Roads Elementary school. To date, there are over 110 locations spreading 14 states, with this being the first one in Mississippi.