From humble beginnings in its pilot year (2004-05), The Big Cheese Reads, Boston Partners in Education’s signature sponsorship and middle school literacy initiative, hit its stride in Fiscal Year 2014.
This year marked the initiative’s 10th anniversary, and with that came a year of celebration and unprecedented successes! In addition to surpassing its fundraising goal, The Big Cheese Reads reached a record-breaking 115 middle school classrooms across the Boston Public Schools district.
Over two thousand 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students were given the rare opportunity to meet and engage in conversation with accomplished community members (“Big Cheeses”) including Mayor Marty Walsh, State Street Corporation’s Chairman, President and CEO Joseph (Jay) Hooley, Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart, and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, among others.
“You’re all equally smart,” said Mr. Hooley to a 8th grade class at the Eliot K-8 School. Mr. Hooley shared details about his rise to the top; beginning with a solid public school education and an after-school job pumping gas. “What will determine whether you are a gas station attendant or a CEO is how hard you are willing to work.”
During each classroom visit, “Big Cheeses” emphasize the importance of literacy as it relates to career success. The result? Students learned about careers they’d never even heard of before! (What actually is an International Executive Services Officer, anyway?) Further, they heard sound advice about the importance of working hard and staying in school—from an adult other than a teacher or family member.
Teachers found The Big Cheese Reads classroom visits valuable as well. “Having someone from their community come in and speak to them allows my students to see how they too can be successful,” said a teacher from the Oliver Perry K-8 school in South Boston. “It also makes them feel special for someone to take the time to answer their questions.”
Thank you to everyone who participated in our epic 10th Anniversary year of The Big Cheese Reads! For more about how the Big Cheese Reads supports our core programs, watch the video below.