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Austin Daily Herald

Hormel employees spark love of reading for Woodson Kindergarteners

Reading from a book of nursery rhymes, Debbie Blomquist, a Hormel Foods employee, spent Wednesday morning with Savannah Baumgartner, a Woodson Kindergarten Center student. The two giggled over the illustrations in the book, and took time to talk about what they read together.

“I’ve done this for the last three years,” Blomquist explained. “I love spending time with the kids and read to them. You sort of remember when you have children how time went by in a blur. You miss spending time with kids and it’s fun.”

Wednesday was the last day for Hormel Foods employees to read with a Woodson Kindergarten Center student as part of the Read to Inspire Program that has been hosted at the school for the last six years.

Each student was paired with a mentor, who would come to visit once a week from November through February to read to them. From these frequent visits, the students begin to form a bond with their mentor and learn social skills such as reading with a friend. Around 46 mentors participated in the program.

Woodson Kindergarten Center teacher Ashley Denisen, who had been involved in the Reading to Inspire program, shared that by having the kindergarten students paired with a mentor, they learn valuable social skills such as sharing and active listening.