Four-legged fire investigator Sam to encourage young readers

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The Burton Fire District and State Farm Insurance have teamed up to help local schools encourage reading and improve reading skills with Investigator Sam’s Reading Program.

One Friday each month, for up to one hour at each of the four elementary schools in the Burton Fire District, Investigator Sam will be an attentive listener for students to read to in order to encourage reading and improve reading skills.

Over the past two years the Burton Fire District and the Beaufort County School District have partnered to provide safety programs for their students; from fire and seat belt safety to the JACOB Kit program, Burton firefighters and teachers have been working together to improve the quality of life for students and their families. Burton fire officials state that Sam’s Reading Program is just another way to accomplish that.

“In working with our teachers, one of the main things they kept telling us is the challenge of getting children to read, and the obvious importance of students having strong reading skills in order succeed and achieve in all aspects of school,” Captain Daniel Byrne, Burton’s Community Support Officer, said. “So, with this program we want to support our schools and teachers in their job as educators, just as they support us with safety.”

Byrne says that after talking with teachers who stated that students will often be more motivate to read to an animal because they feel more comfortable and less self-conscious, he approached State Farm Insurance, who sponsors Sam and his training, and asked if they would also support a reading program with Sam in the schools. State Farm readily agreed.

“Everything grows from a solid education,” Byrne said. “Injuries, illness, fires and accidents also parallel economic and educational statistics. The lower economic and education levels are, the more elevated that community is to risk, so not only do we hope to support teachers in educating our children, but this program also fits into our comprehensive risk reduction programs by attacking a root cause.”

The program started Dec. 20. The remaining dates are Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 20, April 24, May 22.