Monday, April 29, 2013

SCHOLASTIC BOOK DONATION: Madison Cross Roads Elementary School

Alabama First Lady promotes love of reading to Madison Cross Roads Elementary students

  By Crystal Bonvillian

First Lady Dianne Bentley visits Madison Cross Roads ElementaryAlabama First Lady Dianne Bentley answers students' questions during a visit to Madison Cross Roads Elementary on Monday. Bentley's visit was part of a donation of 100 books through the Scholastic Summer Challenge.
TONEY, Alabama - Alabama's First Lady got star treatment on Monday when she visited Madison Cross Roads Elementary.
Dianne Bentley was treated to a tour of the school by several of its older students before she settled into a fourth-grade classroom, read the students a book and answered their questions about being the governor's wife. Bentley made the visit in her role as a reading ambassador for the Scholastic Summer Challenge, which aims to promote childhood literacy.
Through the program, Scholastic each year donates 500 books to schools in participating states. Bentley said Madison Cross Roads would get 100 of those books this year.
Heather Hannah, Bentley's assistant, explained that the 500 books go to different schools in need each year. In 2012, the books went to schools affected by the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
"This year, they're going to Title I schools that are excelling," Hannah said.
The best part of handing out the donations is visiting the schools, Hannah said.
"This is probably one of Mrs. Bentley's favorite things to do, visit the schools," she said.
Bentley dutifully followed the students as they led her through the hallways and told her about the different academic programs the school offers. Bentley seemed particularly impressed with the students' broadcast studio, which they use to broadcast news to their fellow students each day.
"Then you'll know if you want to do that when you grow up," Bentley told the students. "That's good experience."
The First Lady talked pre-K with Mitzi Dennis, principal of Madison Cross Roads Elementary, as she passed the school's two pre-K classrooms. Dennis told her that those classes, which serve about 96 students each year, have a great impact on students' education.
First Lady Dianne Bentley visits Madison Cross Roads ElementaryFirst Lady Dianne Bentley autographs the cast of 11-year-old Drew Whitt, a fifth-grader at Madison Cross Roads Elementary. Bentley visited the school on Monday to promote childhood literacy. (Crystal Bonvillian/

Bentley said that she and her husband are avid proponents of expanding the state's quality pre-K program, but that she fears the Legislature could strip down the funding Gov. Robert Bentley put into the budget for that expansion.
Bentley vowed to continue fighting for more pre-K classrooms.
"If you need any help with that, you know where to find me," Dennis said.
Bentley praised the school and its students after her tour, and expressed surprise at how high student enrollment is. Madison Cross Roads has just over 1,000 students from pre-K to fifth grade.
"I'm really impressed," Bentley said. "And the children who did the tour were so professional, and so poised. I think they should go into television or the media themselves."
The mother of four and grandmother of six then went into a classroom and read "Emma Jo's Song," a book by Faye Gibbons of Deatsville. She explained to the children that she picks the books for her school visits off of shelves in the governor's mansion filled with books by Alabama authors.
After reading the book, she told the children that she wants to instill in them the same lifelong love of literacy that she has had.
"Reading is fun. As a child, I read all the time," Bentley said. "You just get to escape and learn about all sorts of interesting things. I want children to learn to love to read. So I feel like if I can read stories that are fun, it will make you want to read and love it."
Crystal Bonvillian can be reached at 256-532-2630 or at

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Scholastic Book Donation: Sycamore Elementary

First Lady Dianne Bentley is excited to have five hundred books to donate to schools across Alabama. Over the next few weeks, she will travel to five schools giving away one hundred books at each stop.

Yesterday she visited the students and faculty at Sycamore Elementary. She was honored to have the entire school meet her in the gym so that they could read together. After reading they discussed what it was like to be the First Lady of Alabama and what it was like living in Montgomery. It is always encouraging to meet students with such a eager desire to learn.

A special thanks to Scholastic for making these visits and donations possible!!!

Shelby County Arts Council Fashion Show

First Lady Dianne Bentley was the emcee for a luncheon and fashion show in February that benefitted the Shelby County Art Council. This event brought together three ladies groups, all of which support the arts and promote culture in the Shelby County Area.

Belk Department Store supplied the spring fashion and models were selected from surrounding communities. The Fish Market restaurant catered and the tables were decorated with local art. All of the art on the tables and on display were for sale and all money raised was given to the Arts Council.

After the event, Mrs. Bentley went to the council's center and was able to view a quilt show. Her cathedral window tie quilt was on display along with many others. The show will be up through March. As most people know, the First Lady has a passion for fiber art and quilting, but was happy to share her voice to support all art.