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Posted: March 9, 2018 9:45 a.m.
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Winn Ambassadors take part in read across America

Kaytrina Curtis/

Winn Army Community Hospital Ambassadors read Doctor Seuss stories to Diamond Elementary School students during Read Across America Day, March 2.

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U.S. Army Medical Department Activity – Fort Stewart Ambassadors, participated in the 2018 Read Across America program March 2 at Diamond Elementary School on Fort Stewart.

RAA is an annual program that encourages children to celebrate reading on the birthday of children's author Dr. Seuss.

Maj. Cicely Artis, an executive officer at U.S. Army MEDDAC – Fort Stewart, was a guest readers for Terry Houtkooper’s third-grade class. Artis jumped at the opportunity to meet and interact with the students and understood the importance of providing a positive, relatable role model for the students.

 “I believe in setting the standard and being the standard,” Artis said. “When people see me involved outside of just my regular routine of normal operations within the hospital, they see that there’s a person behind the Soldier.”

The experience at Diamond was a unique one for the Soldiers from Winn, not only because they had a chance to read to the children, but because of the environment the students were in. Diamond Elementary classrooms are open-concept, which means no walls, no doors and no barriers to learning. There unique learning environment encourages diversity and open collaboration among the students. 

“We don’t have barriers, it’s an open system,” Houtkooper said. “We don’t even call them classrooms; they’re studios in neighborhoods and we function that way.”

As a Winn ambassador, Artis appreciated the diverse melting pot of students she had a chance to interact with at Diamond and understands the importance of celebrating their unique and special qualities during her visit.

“It is important that we teach our children that our diversity is actually our strength,” Artis said. “Whether we have different color skin, different types of clothing, we live in different neighborhoods, maybe we’re different sizes, maybe someone’s tall, someone’s short, but we’re all unique, we’re all special, and when we come together as one, that is where we gain our strength.”

For Houtkooper, the short time with the ambassadors from Winn was something she knows her students can relate to.

“Mom or Dad or both are military personnel and to have somebody come in just like today - the two people that came in and read to them today in uniform - that’s exciting to them,” Houtkooper said.

Houtkooper believes the Read Across America event was a success and hopes that it is not the last opportunity to interact with the Winn ambassadors and staff members.

“This is an experience we can continue to talk about for days to come,” Houtkooper said. “My hopes would be, if it’s possible, they can come back at a later date and revisit us and read something else.”

Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading throughout the year.

Reading specialist at Diamond Elementary School, Marilyn Carter, appreciates the quality time the ambassadors spent with the students and sees this year’s Read Across America event as a complete success.

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