Jade Owens, published author and second-grade student at Apex Academy, shared her passion for reading and writing with her classmates in a socially distanced assembly where she read her book “Jade Heard It All.”
The book shares her story about being hearing impaired and living with hearing loss. Her book explains the experience of living with hearing aids and that “friends can look different, like different things, and also have different needs.”
Jade’s mother, Debrielle Lazada, shared that her daughter began writing the book by telling a make-believe story that transitioned, over time, into telling her story. “Jade has always liked writing,” she shared. “She always walks around with a pen and paper."
Lazada explained that other children didn’t understand Jade’s hearing aids and some kids physically touched her ears trying to figure them out. Writing her book and explaining to other kids why she needs them and how they help her has minimized these challenging experiences.
“It's quite an accomplishment for Jade to be a published author at this point in her life,” said Megan Sutula, dean of lower elementary at Apex. “We are proud of her and are pleased to share in this opportunity alongside her.”
The socially distanced assembly honored the young author at the close of National Reading Month, which takes place annually every March, aiming to motivate Americans to read every day.
“National Reading Month is a time to celebrate the beliefs that we hold year-round like instilling a love of reading every single day,” said Rachel Bodenmiller, director of English language arts curriculum at NHA. “We get to outwardly celebrate the love of reading and acknowledge the habit.”
“This event was a great chance to showcase our students and how they give back to the community,” said Tony Verch, dean of upper elementary at Apex. “It also provided Jade a chance to reach out to her fellow students and show them that she’s just like them.”
The book reading added to the interactive events Apex offered its students throughout Reading Month, including virtual read-alouds and numerous in-person activities. “We’ve had to think outside of the box to ensure our virtual students get the same experience as students learning inside the building,” said Sutula.
Teachers urged students to participate by offering classroom reading tasks and challenging students to read in unique places throughout their homes such as in the bathtub or under the covers. Virtual students were encouraged to use a buddy system, pairing kids to read together via Google Meet.
“Ultimately, we build lifelong readers and inspire a love of reading through great text selection,” said Bodenmiller. “This is also accomplished by building the skills in our students that can make them confident and successful readers.”
NHA accomplishes this by making authentic texts available to its students. “Instead of reading out of a textbook, our kids get to read engaging stories,” said Bodenmiller. “That starts in kindergarten with read-aloud and goes all the way through middle school.”
When it comes to sharing compelling stories that will impact students, when NHA’s teachers can share the work of a student, that’s the cherry on top.
The book reading took place in the school’s gymnasium where Owens read to first and second-grade students, who received a paperback copy of the book to read and follow along. Jade’s paperback book is available for purchase on Amazon.
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Apex Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in East Cleveland, Ohio, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.