Literacy Week

District Launches Literacy Week – Feb. 27 to March 3
Posted on 02/24/2023
Bloomfield Public Schools is hosting its inaugural Literacy Week - Monday, Feb. 27 to March 3. 

With support from Town Hall, the Bloomfield Public Library, the Bloomfield Youth Department and key stakeholders, the intent of this is event is for the school district to amplify the importance of reading and literacy to the school community.


Local ethnically diverse authors, including a district teacher and student, will speak to each of the seven schools throughout Literacy Week. They will discuss the vital role that the love of reading played in their lives.

“Reading is the foundation for academic learning and long-term success,” said Dr. James Thompson, Jr., Bloomfield’s Superintendent of Schools. “Our initial goal is to create a culture in which all students are reading on grade level by grade 3.”

Literacy Week will coincide with the March 2nd National Read Across America Day. The district will also be participating in Read Across America.

Bloomfield’s Director of School Improvement, Lisa Lamenzo praised the district’s planning committee for its work with community partners to celebrate literacy in new and exciting ways, including reading challenges at the schools and high school students visiting town senior residences to read student-originated narratives.

“We are looking forward to continuing the work with our families and community to elevate literacy and connect it to students’ everyday lives,’’ Lamenzo said.

As part of its effort to enhance literacy, the school system in the past year launched several impactful new programs, including:

A preschool for Bloomfield families at Laurel Elementary School.
A Talented & Gifted Program for those in Grade 4 through 8.
Expansion of the college-and-career readiness efforts at Bloomfield High School. 

Authors scheduled to visit during Literacy Week are:

Arthur Miller

Author, former radio host and retired businessman, Deacon Art Miller is the former director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
He is a nationally recognized preacher. His book, The Journey to Chatham – Why Emmett Till’s Murder Changed America, a Personal Story, details the impact that the brutal 1955-murder of Chicago classmate Emmitt Till had on the country’s civil rights movement. Till, age 14, was beaten and killed in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

Mark Dressler
Mark Dressler, born and raised in Hartford, is a retired businessman and entrepreneur. He is now a murder-mystery writer. His Hartford-based novels usually center on a detective – named Dan Shields - who breaks all the rules. His fifth book will be out this year.

Joe Young
Joe Young is an award-winning artist, writer and producer. He is the President of Joe Young Entertainment, LLC. Young’s work has been featured on media platforms across the country. In 2022, he teamed up with music icon Smokey Robinson to produce the animated film “BLACK AMERICAN”. The animation was featured on ABC’s “The View” television program. Young is also the creator of the KEMET comic property.

Robenia McKinley
Robenia McKinley’s professional expertise includes over 30 years as a childcare professional, with experience as a preschool principal, teacher, program developer and entrepreneur.  As a writer, she self-published a children’s book entitled Sir Frederick Squirrel of Canterbury. McKinley has been a contributing writer for various publications such as the City Beat Magazine and The Inquiring News. She is also a Senior Producer at Joe Young Entertainment, working on numerous youth and video projects.  She recently completed her Afrocentric graphic novel, The Weaverbirds.

Paul Cantanese
P.W. (Paul William) Catanese is the author of 10 critically acclaimed fantasy-adventure novels for young readers. His work includes The Thief and the Beanstalk, The Mirror’s Tale, the Books of Umber trilogy and Donny’s Inferno. Cantanese’s books have been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and others for their exciting action, humor and well-crafted writing.

Leslie Matthews Stansfield
Leslie Matthews Stansfield is the author of Mr. Tea and the Traveling Teacup, the first book in the Madeline’s Teahouse series. A mother of four and the grandmother of ten, Stansfield is a former math tutor, and currently works for Bloomfield Public School’s Office of Student Supports.
She is a graduate of University of Hartford and earned her Masters' degree from the University of Phoenix in Educational Leadership.

Sandy Chase
Sandy Chase is an award-winning artist and a children’s book author and illustrator. Her work has been selected to appear in numerous local and national art shows. A former art teacher, she is also a longstanding board member of the West Hartford Art League. In addition to her art work, Chase is a docent at the New Britain Art Museum and an adult literacy volunteer in Hartford.

Shayla Oliver 
Shayla Oliver, current Bloomfield High School student, is the author of the children’s book The Ashy Monster. The book provides a humorous and entertaining multi-cultural experience involving a beautiful young Princess, who becomes self-conscious about her ashy skin. The reader is taken on an adventure as the Princess meets many different characters in seeking a solution for her dry skin. Shayla enjoys reading, cooking, computer science, running and spending time with friends and family. She plans on attending University of Hartford to major in computer science.

Renata Bowers
Renata Bowers is the author of the popular Freida B children’s book series. Frieda B is a girl with a huge imagination who believes – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that she is “free to be” whomever she dreams she can be. The book series inspires children to dream big and never be afraid to be themselves and explore. Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, Bowers bases many of the book storylines from her memories as a child.

Cynthia L. Rodriguez
Cindy L. Rodriguez is an editor for an educational publisher and an author of several children's books, including her latest - Three Pockets Full: A Story of Love, Family, and Tradition. For 22 years, she was an English Language Arts teacher and reading specialist in Connecticut public schools. Rodriguez has also worked as a journalist, including a newspaper reporter for The Hartford Courant, and researcher for The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team.

Mary Munson
With a love of teaching and a degree in English, Munson began her career teaching a preschool classroom in 1998. She added two master’s degrees in Early Childhood Development and Early Childhood Special Education -- and has served children with (and without) special needs for over two decades. She enjoys embedding early childhood concepts into playful children’s stories. Her debut, and affirmational, picture book – Love Will Turn You Around – will be released this spring.
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