For close to 30 years, teacher Beverly Belk has been holding a family reading night the last Thursday of the month at Anderson Heights Elementary School.
Sharon Lloyd started as a parent volunteer when Belk first began the family night, and has now been volunteering at the school for over 30 years. Her daughter, Jamie Hinkle, brings her three children to the event and recalls coming to the family reading night when she was a girl.
“All my brothers and sister had Ms. Belk,” said Hinkle. “We joked with her that she couldn’t retire until she had my youngest son, and he is currently in her third grade class.”
Between 50 and 100 people attend the event each month, said Belk. She explained it was a way for families to come together, enjoy a meal, hear a story and build a craft.
“It is a free event, and we always have a meal, a story and a craft the families can do together,” stated Belk. “They can just be a family for an evening.”
Carmen Busbee, 9, best described everyone’s thoughts about the event, saying she enjoyed spending time with friends and family.
“We spend a whole bunch of time together, which is good for families,” stated Martha Diaz, 10.
Diaz was in attendance with her brother, Benny, and mother, Maricela, who expressed gratitude towards Belk and the district for having a night that helped families bond with each other.
For Benny Diaz, 8, the night is special because he enjoys the meal with his family and spending additional time with his friends and teacher.
Anna Raymond, 10, loves the crafts she gets to do with friends and family, which is a highlight and something she looks forward to throughout the month.
Principal Tim Brace said the event is special to the school because of Belk’s dedication and genuine love for her students.
“This event is all Bev, I can’t take any credit for it,” said Brace. “It’s great because it really brings everyone together, and everyone gets to know each other better, so that when they need to talk to you about something, they know who you are and feel more comfortable.”
For Belk, she views it as an extension of her job.
“I love teaching and being around my students,” said Belk. “Everyone just needs some help sometimes, and this (night) allows families to be together… they can worry in the morning about their struggles, but tonight they are in this moment.”