Duncanville Reads Literacy Program, Founded by Retired Neurosurgeon Dr. Michael E. Miner, Expands to All District Campuses in 2024

Duncanville Reads
Dr. Miner with authors at private reception, photo by Chris Waits

Duncanville Reads, a literacy program founded by retired neurosurgeon Dr. Michael E. Miner in 2019, has expanded its outreach to now visit every campus in Duncanville ISD. Dr. Miner, an active advocate for advancing literacy, began volunteering to read to students at a local elementary school after retirement. Soon he was inspired to start the literacy program, to bring children’s book authors to read their works to the students. He describes the origins of the Duncanville Reads program in the accompanying essay.

At its start, Duncanville’s nine elementary schools shared lodging, food, and transportation expenses for one author, who was chosen by the librarians. The author would visit all nine campuses monthly for one year, at an estimated cost of $11,000. Each school raised $500 for the program, with the balance donated by Duncanville Education Foundation and the DISD Superintendent.

Duncanville Reads Expands in 2024

Now in its sixth year, the 2024 Duncanville Reads program has expanded to bring ten well-known authors to Duncanville. Age-appropriate authors visited all 18 campuses in the district this spring. DISD currently educates 12,800 students in 18 campuses: nine elementary, three intermediate, three middle schools, one high school, and two alternative schools.

A criteria for each author selected was that they look like the children in the schools they visited. For this reason, racially diverse men and women, many of them former teachers, are chosen for Duncanville Reads.

Seven of the visiting authors are shown with Dr. Miner in the featured photo. The photo was taken by Chris Waits at a private event May 1, the day before their visits to the schools. Top row L-R: Dr. Miner, Gordon C. James, Kimberly Willis Holt, Traci Sorrel, and Don Tate. Bottom row, L-R: Carolyn Dee Flores, Carmen Oliver, and Anne Wynter. Not pictured: Tiffany D. Jackson, Duncan Tonatiuh, and Adi Alsaid.

Duncanville Education Foundation President

Dr. Miner, who also serves as President of the Duncanville Education Foundation, said the Duncanville Reads program is the only student-focused literacy program of its kind in the country. It’s the only one that brings nationally-known authors to visit every campus in the school district. Not one to rest on his laurels, Dr. Miner hopes to keep adding sponsors and expanding Duncanville Reads to inspire even more young minds in the future.

Duncanville ISD Librarians at Duncanville Reads reception, photo by Chris Waits

Duncanville ISD Librarians at Duncanville Reads reception, photo by Chris Waits Duncanville ISD librarians continue to play a crucial role in making the Duncanville Reads program a success. Librarians pictured are top row L-R: Abigail Alvarez Silva, Caron Ervin, Maria Arvisu, Brooke Thames, Jill Schoonover, and Paula Nash. Bottom row L-R: Blanca Garcia, Sharon Holan, Maricela Silva, Deloris Guillen, Alleasha Austin, and Christy Willis.

“Being able to have authors and illustrators come and speak to my kids in a small group makes them feel special. Seeing their faces light up when they get to ask questions and have a “celebrity” answer them reminds me of why we are here – to expose students to new stories and experiences,” said Jill Schoonover, Daniel Intermediate School Librarian.

For more information about the Duncanville Reads program and other initiatives of Duncanville ISD Education Foundation, please visit disdef.org.

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