Last year we celebrated the seventh year of The Big Cheese Reads Initiative. The Big Cheese Reads connects middle school students with business and community leaders (“Big Cheeses,” if you will). A “Big Cheese” visits a classroom once a year to read aloud to the students and discuss with them the importance of literacy in his or her life and specifically, how reading has affected his or her career. After the read aloud, students are encouraged to ask questions about the readers’ lives: their careers, educations, challenges that they may have faced growing up, etc. In these visits, students are exposed to a wide variety of potential careers that they may have never considered for themselves.
The Big Cheese Reads is also a fundraising initiative culminating in our annual gala each spring. This year we raised $350,000 to support all of our programs throughout the year. In the 2010-2011 school year 78 Big Cheese Readers visited 20 middle schools.
Jose P. Duarte, Principal, Henry Dearborn Middle School says about The Big Cheese Reads:
“Middle school students are just becoming aware of the world around them. They are curious and they are impressionable, open to new ideas and experiences and able to process them. Adult role models – especially those who do not come exclusively from the world of sports or entertainment – can have enormous impact on students. For the most part, our students do not know any executives. But they respond very well to persuasive, successful adults, particularly when those adults take a sincere interest in them. The Big Cheese Readers who came to our school were terrific, and they did more good than they can imagine. They will have a lasting effect on our students.”
The eighth year of The Big Cheese Reads will kick off in October of 2011! We can’t wait!