Inspiration to Read written by Ryan Eckart
I wasn’t always a reader. In fact, I wasn’t a reader until I became an elementary principal and a special person entered my life. Growing up, I hated reading. In 7th grade, I remember my parents meeting with my teacher to figure out why I couldn’t remember anything I was reading. From what I can remember, no solution was found and I continued to struggle into my high school years.
I became a teacher and then Reading Intervention Coordinator, which one would think means that I was a reader. I was able to motivate kids to read and to learn, no matter what they entry point happened to be. But did I model what I was saying to kids by reading and having titles to recommend? Nope, not the case.
Enter Mrs. Vuckovich. In my first few days as a principal at an urban elementary school just south of Chicago, I realized that Mrs. Vuckovich was wise beyond her years. A veteran teacher that was highly respected in a large elementary school and very large district, Mrs. Vuckovich was the reading teacher every administrator dreamed of having.
I am not sure if she liked me from day one, but she certainly respected me. Mrs. Vuckovich would often drop by the office with a book in her hand and tell me about the newest titles her class of fifth graders was reading. She got me excited about the books as well. I adopted her class and read one of her recommendations simultaneously with some kids so that we could talk about the book as we were reading it. While the kids seemed to enjoy reading alongside their principal, I think I learned much more than they did about reading and myself along the process.
For special events like holidays and my birthday, Mrs. Vuckovich’s class gave me a new book that they all had signed. I read more YA and children’s literature in this single year than I had in the previous 10 years of my life. Mrs. Vuckovich sparked an interest inside of me that I didn’t think would ever be there.
Since this life changing year, I learned more from her and how to love literacy in the years to come. I now find myself not only recommending great kid titles to teachers and students, but I am reading professional books like crazy, sharing them on social media and with my staff. The books that I read help shape the attitude, climate, culture, and instruction that I believe in.
One year, that is all it took to make me a reader. No one forced me. No one pressured me. Someone inspired me.
Ryan Eckart is an Elementary School Principal in Indiana. He has been a teacher, then administrator for the past fifteen years. Ryan works closely with his staff and students to promote literacy and learning through new and innovative ways in the classroom. Known for his bright tennis shoes, Ryan always finds ways to connect and engage learners of all ages.