“I don’t know if they are read to or not at home,” Belinda George, a first-year principal at Homer Drive Elementary in Beaumont, Texas, told The Washington Post.
That’s why, each Tuesday at 7:30 p.m, George reads to her students herself. Once a week, she opens Facebook Live on her phone and reads a children’s book in her living room—sometimes she even wears pajamas. As she explained to the Post, she wears pajamas because she says good night to them at the end of the video, and she wants to be “true to what I’m saying.”
“Kids will come up to me Wednesday and say, ‘Dr. George, I saw you in your PJs reading!” she said. “They’ll tell me their favorite part of the book.”
Some of her videos have brought in upwards of 2,000 views, with families from all over the country tuning in for George’s dramatic readings delivered live from the forgotten corner of Texas that borders Southern Louisiana.
George, who has been doing “Tucked-in Tuesdays” since December, said she does it to keep the relationship strong between home and school. And, of course, because she adores her students.
“The bottom line is I love, love kids. I know if I don’t reach them outside of school, I never reach them in school,” she said to the Post.
Keava Turner, a mother of four, told Beaumont Enterprise this link opens in a new tab that all her children watch George's live stream.
"I love it because all of my children watch it. I have a 14-year-old, a third-grader and first-grader who go to Homer, and my 10-month-old even sits still to watch," Turner said.
According to George, 94% of the school’s 680 students come from “economically disadvantaged” homes. And unfortunately, recent literacy tests showed that just 55% of her third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were reading on or above grade level.
She told the Post that in the year she’s been principal, they’ve already seen growth in literacy.
George, the daughter of a crawfish farmer who was raised along with her five siblings in a three-bedroom trailer in Louisiana, said she knows what it’s like to grow up in a disadvantaged home. And even though she has high expectations, she knows how important it is to meet her students where they are. She makes it a point to pick books that inspire and is not afraid to throw personal anecdotes into her readings.
“If a child feels loved they will try,” George concluded. “There’s no science about it.”