Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott spent about an hour reading to two classrooms of young children at the Child Care of Southwest Florida's Lehigh Acres center, joining thousands of others across the country on Oct. 3 celebrating Jumpstart's Read for the Record Day.
Millions of children and adults came together to celebrate literacy and support efforts to promote early childhood education all across the nation.
Scott joined literally millions of others reading "Otis" a book for youngsters by Loren Long.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott reads to a class of children at the Lehigh site of Child Care of Southwest Florida which is located on Wing’s Way in Lehigh Acres.
Lehigh was one of his first stops of the four Child Care of Southwest Florida centers in Lee County. There are two in Hendry County.
When the sheriff entered one of the classrooms of four and five-year-old children, he was greeted immediately by Brian Hernandez, 5, with a "high five" handshake, something that had not been planned. The other children in the classroom all cheered as Scott introduced himself and began reading, often stopping to answer a question of two from a student.
The young children were alert and their questions were very good, said Megan Greeley-Gibson, the child car center's director.
Scott himself is a dad of two grown daughters and said he and his wife always read to their children when they were young. So reading and using some emotion in his reading came easy for him. It was apparent that the children and the sheriff were friends right off from the start.
Since 2006, Read for the Record has gained national visibility through celebrity engagement, prominent media coverage and special events, including readings on Capitol Hill and celebrations on NBC's Today show, Greeley-Gibson said.
"We're really excited that Sheriff Mike Scott would take time out of his busy day to come to Lehigh and read to our children," she said.
But she couldn't have been more excited that the young children who were attracted to the sheriff honey bees to a comb.
"I'm Mike Scott and I am in law enforcement," he told two groups of children before he started reading. The sheriff in full uniform got full attention and all the kids wanted to shake his hand.
In return, he passed out bags of plastic "Junior Deputy, Sheriff's Office" badges to give to each student.
Each class had about 20 children and while the sheriff read, he had their full attention. The children were polite and quiet while he explained some of the photos in the book.
Scott's, who has two grown daughters, has been Lee County sheriff for eight years and has spent a total of 26 years in law enforcement.
"Oh yes, we read to our two daughters when they were young. Today one is a college student at FGCU and the other is in law school at the University of Florida.
After he read to the students he talked to them about the dangers of strangers and urged them never to go off with someone other than their parents or an adult who was with them.
"That's really important," he told them as some of kids nodded to his advice.
Child Care of Southwest Florida is a United Way agency established in 1967. It opened in Lehigh in 2004 and the venue had been a child care facility before it was taken over by Child Care of Southwest Florida. It has a total of about 125 students, ranging in age from six months to eight years of age.
"That was a lot of fun," Scott said before he left.
For more information on Child Care of Southwest Florida's Lehigh Acres Center, visit online: www.ccswfl.org/locations/child-care-center-lehigh-acres/.