Teacher’s legacy lives on through books

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On Monday Sept. 28, the family of Lori Rhodes, who taught at Bossier Elementary for 14 years, paid tribute to her by holding a book giveaway on what would have been her birthday.

Rhodes, who passed away in July, was passionate about reading and teaching her students to love literacy like she did.

After Lori’s death her husband, Keith, and son, Zach who are both Bossier Parish teachers, were looking for a way to honor her memory.

Instead of flowers, Lori’s family asked people to either bring books or donate money toward the purchase of books for Bossier Elementary, and a kindergarten/first grade school in Webster Parish where Rhodes had also taught.

Keith said, “I love our students at Bossier Elementary and Lori loved them even more. Nothing would have brought her more joy than to see the faces of “our babies” as they received their books. I could not think of a more perfect way to honor my beautiful bride’s memory.”

$5,000 and some 1,100 books later, the Rhodes family made a special delivery to students.

“Honoring the memory of Lori Rhodes with books being placed in the hands of students who may not have the opportunity otherwise is far greater than the gesture. Our students were excited to read simply because they love the person who gave them the book, Mr. Rhodes. That excitement can potentially be the spark that will foster a love for reading, which was the ultimate goal of Lori Rhodes,” said Dr. Norcha Lacy, principal at Bossier Elementary.

Books were not only donated to the classrooms and school libraries, but each child was also able to take books home.

“Knowledge is something that can never be taken away. The placing of books into the hands of children is such a fitting way to honor the memory of Lori Rhodes because she valued the foundation that reading gives children. She worked so hard to instill a love of reading in the hearts of her students because she knew reading would prepare them for a successful life,” said Andrea May, Librarian at Bossier Elementary. 

Literacy and low literacy is among one of the most dire issues facing policy makers, educators, and communities across the nation.

According to the International Literacy Association, there are 781 million people in the world who are either illiterate (cannot read a single word) or functionally illiterate (with a basic or below basic ability to read). Some 126 million of them are young people. That accounts for 12 percent of the world’s population.

Furthermore according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 21 percent of adults in the United States (about 43 million) fall into the illiterate/functionally illiterate category. Nearly two-thirds of fourth graders read below grade level, and the same number graduate from high school still reading below grade level.