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North Coleman Road Elementary School

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A lucky group of North Coleman Road Elementary School third-graders received a visit March 8 from Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. as part of the New York State Pick a Reading Partner program. The program encourages reading together for at least 20 minutes daily, stressing that reading can be fun and informative, and also that it is the most important activity in a child’s education.

Students picked Dr. Seuss books for Toulon to read to them including “Fox in Socks,” a book full of tongue twisters.

“I loved it,” Toulon said. “I thought the kids were very happy that I was there.”

The county sheriff stated that these events are opportunities for law enforcement to talk to the youth in the community.

“For me, it is important for us as members of the sheriff’s office to get into the community and be able to talk to kids of all ages from grade school to high school to make sure [they know] who the law enforcement is, and break down any barriers and feel comfortable coming to talk to a law enforcement person.”

Toulon also stressed the importance of reading to children.

“Being a former educator — I hold a doctorate in education — it is extremely important that we emphasize reading and reading books, not necessarily from a computer, tablet or phone,” Toulon said. “Because this is the basis that will help them get through life.”

Third-grade teacher Christina Anderson had similar sentiments saying that reading is vital to a child’s development and that it can open many doors for them.

“I was happy he was able to come today — I think the class really enjoyed the experience,” she said.

PARP was first developed in 1978 by state Sen. James Donovan, who was the chairman of the State Senate Education Committee. Since 1987, the NYS PTA has continued to administer the program.

“Hopefully I can do something like this in a few more schools in the future,” said Toulon.