Oxmoor Valley Reading Program taking students from Birmingham to Broadway

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – An extracurricular reading initiative at Oxmoor Valley Elementary School in Birmingham has partnered with Project 1 Voice to connect students with Broadway actors.

The reading program is called Terrific Tuesdays Reading Time with the Jaquars. “Initially, it was just the teachers reading,” said Lakeshia Moody, reading specialist at Oxmoor Valley Elementary School. Then the librarian, Tamara Ishman, contacted a friend on Broadway. “I asked him to read and with an invitation he said let me find you people who can read, let me be the last.”

This friend was Erich McMillan-McCall. He has an extensive Broadway resume that includes plays such as Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Jelly’s Last Jam, and many more. But before heading to Broadway, the Birmingham native performed in Town and Gown, which is now known as the Red Mountain Theater. “I grew up in the Elyton Village projects in Birmingham, went to Ramsay High School and attended Birmingham Southern College before moving to New York in 1988, but it’s been part of my journey, reading has been a big part of what made me who I am. “

We had the opportunity to speak with a fourth grade student from Oxmoor Valley Elementary School who is participating in the reading program. Her name is Aria. “I really love that reading can help you with your vocabulary and really because reading is such a fun activity and personally I love reading books.”

Aria’s mother says the reading program unlocked her daughter’s dreams. “It gives them the opportunity to really just read the books in their day to day lives and I love it because they are going to need these skills as they progress through life.”

Aria says she now wants to be an actress when she grows up. “I like to act, I like to be in plays, I like to be in front of people and to present.” McCall says that’s why he has actors from seven Broadway plays reading to Birmingham students. He wants them to see people who are like them achieve high standards.


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