Reading With a Purpose

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Brittney Montgomery reads a book to children over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Brittney Montgomery.

GREEN RIVER — Loving children and helping them realize their potential is at the heart of what Green River first-grade teacher Brittney Montgomery does every day.

With schools closed across the state due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Harrison Elementary School teacher has continued to fulfill her life’s purpose using technology to read books to children in the community. Montgomery holds a daily live stream on her Facebook page where kids can tune in to hear stories and interact with others.

Understanding the importance of her relationship with her students, Montgomery found inspiration to continue to build those relationships in a different way.

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“We spend a great deal of time with one another and it is important to me that they feel loved and supported,” Montgomery said. “Knowing how essential our relationship is, I decided I needed an outlet in which I could be seen and they could be heard. In times of uncertainty, it’s important to find an anchor and create normalcy in any way we can.”

Montgomery began reading books on March 17. Recently, publishers and authors around the globe have given permission for people to read their books online. Author Mo Williams was the first to give permission to use his books. His book, The Pigeon Needs a Bath, was the first book Montgomery selected to read on her live stream. It was an instant hit.

“Reading books is a great way to connect with children. It allows them to escape, dream, laugh, wonder, all while learning,” Montgomery said.

The live streams on Montgomery’s Facebook page have picked up viewers outside of the students in her classroom. Many children from the community have connected and others from different states and countries have tuned in to listen to her read. Adults have even joined in the fun.

“This makes my teacher heart explode with gratitude,” Montgomery said.

Focusing on the Kids

Montgomery hopes that her stories help create a sense of stability for kids while they are at home.

“Kids are incredibly resilient, but that doesn’t mean they don’t worry, listen, watch, and recognize something is happening around us,” Montgomery said. “I hope that it reminds them I love them and even though we can’t be face to face, I am with them in this time.”

As much as Montgomery’s readings to the children have been beneficial to the kids and families that participate, the experience has also helped her fulfill her purpose.

“I believe this has taught me how to center myself during a time of unknown. I’ve found a way to channel my teacher voice,” Montgomery said. “My purpose in life is supporting children and helping them realize they are important, loved, and special.”

Others have taken notice to her reading over Facebook and have felt inspired to do the same. Montgomery said her friend and Washington Elementary third-grade teacher, Melissa Skinner, has also started reading to kids on her Facebook page.

Taking steps to help each other and move forward is the only way to navigate what is now a very different lifestyle for many according to Montgomery.

“I hope I am providing an opportunity for parents to take a moment for themselves. I know how challenging it is to be thrown into a new position overnight,” Montgomery said. “We all have to be there for one another, it’s the only way to move forward.”

Teaming Up

SweetwaterNOW and Montgomery have teamed up to bring kids daily stories on SweetwaterNOW’s Facebook page. Tune in at 10 a.m. every day to listen to her read and interact with kiddos in the community.