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Rynders reads to Lee County kids

State Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, reads to a gathering of Lee County Pre-K students Monday during Georgia’s Pre-K Schools celebration. Rynders read “Pete the Cat - I Love My White Shoes” as part of a statewide celebration by Georgia legislators. Sitting with Rynders are, from left, Addie Murfree, Bowen Bailey, Ila Kate Smith, Shanya Lockett, Drew Inman and Carly Reese.

State Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, reads to a gathering of Lee County Pre-K students Monday during Georgia’s Pre-K Schools celebration. Rynders read “Pete the Cat - I Love My White Shoes” as part of a statewide celebration by Georgia legislators. Sitting with Rynders are, from left, Addie Murfree, Bowen Bailey, Ila Kate Smith, Shanya Lockett, Drew Inman and Carly Reese.

LEESBURG, Ga. -- The Lee County Pre-K program has more than 220 children in it, and more than half of them were crammed into the Lee County Board of Education meeting room, sitting Indian-style on the floor, eagerly listening to state Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, read to them about what Pete the Cat was up to.

All across the state Monday, scores of Georgia legislators fanned out to pre-k schools in their districts, reading books to the youngsters in celebration of Georgia Pre-K Week.

The legislators were honoring the hard work in the state's 3,909 pre-k classrooms to prepare their youngest constituents for success in schools.

"We are so honored that Representative Ed Rynders is taking time away from his demanding schedule to spend some time with us," said Jan Duke, director of Lee County Pre-K. "We can't wait to show him how revenue from the state's lottery is being put to such important use in helping 4-year-olds from Lee County get the skills they need in language, literacy and so many other areas that are critical to helping them succeed in school."

Lee County Pre-K is actively involved in Georgia Pre-K Week, the first event of its kind, hosted by Voices for Georgia's Children (www.georgiavoices.org) and its partners.

"Pre-k is about learning and getting children on a path to reading proficiency so that when they reach third grade they can make the important educational leap from learning to read to reading to learn," said Pat Willis, executive director of Voices for Georgia's Children, an advocacy organization. "Pre-k week is an exciting opportunity to showcase Lee County Pre-K and the many other quality pre-k centers we have in Georgia."

Lee County's pre-k program was established in 1993 and presently has 10 classrooms serving 220 children with 2 additional classes for 3-5 year olds with special needs.

Established in 2003, Voices for Georgia's Children is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the well-being of children and youth across the state and inspires Georgians -- both legislators and everyday citizens -- to act on their behalf.

Voices for Georgia's Children is proud to have "Pete the Cat" as the honorary mascot for Pre-K Week. "Pete the Cat" is the creation of Georgia artist James Dean who illustrated the book, "Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes," which was written by Georgia children's author Eric Litwin.

Through the generosity of Dean, Litwin, HarperCollins Publishers and Decatur's Little Shop of Stories bookstore, Voices for Georgia's Children was able to provide copies of "Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes" to all legislators for their use in reading to pre-k students across the state.