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Peters Family Honored at Reading Oasis Unveiling

A new “Reading Oasis” containing hundreds of new books has been officially unveiledat Webb Elementary School, 1200 N. Cooper in Arlington. Lisann Peters and her son Kort were recognized during a brief ceremony for the Peters family’s $25,000 scholarship that made possible the Reading Oasis at Webb Elementary and another one at Adams Elementary, 2220 Sherry.

Pictured above at the unveiling event are, from left, United Way of Tarrant County CEO Tim McKinney, Arlington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD School Board President Bowie Hogg, Lisann Peters and Kort Peters.

Volunteers from Atmos Energy and Pier 1 installed the Webb Elementary and Adams Elementary Reading Oases in late November. They are among nine Reading Oasesestablished by United Way of Tarrant County since last June with the help of generous underwriters and volunteers.

Besides books, the Webb Elementary Reading Oasis features comfortable rocking chairs, a colorful carpet that says “TIME TO READ” and a listening library with a CD player and books on CDs. A Reading Oasis provides an inviting spot where families can enjoy reading together, learn how to make reading a habit at home and gain access to books year-round.

“Since moving to Arlington in 1978, our family has always been involved in the education of children in the Metroplex,” said Kort Peters. “The importance of reading (and education as a whole) was paramount to our home and a large focus of my mom’s volunteer efforts with PTA. It has continued to this day with her work on the Read with Rotary program for the Downtown Arlington Rotary Club and our involvement with the City of Arlington Library system as well. We focus on projects that ultimately have a chance to impact children at early ages.”

Kort said Lisann’s mother was an elementary school teacher and his sister, Christie Dwyer, was also an elementary school teacher before she had children. “We all understand that the basis for communication comes from language and reading is a fundamental tool for learning to communicate,” said Kort.

Every child in a Reading Oasis school receives a membership to United Way Club Connect, a national website featuring celebrity book readings, games, videos and other learning activities. Their families receive coupons monthly from organizations such as Scholastic, Mattel and General Mills. United Way brought the Reading Oasis program to Tarrant County, making this the first area in the nation to have Reading Oases of this kind that combine a cozy reading environment with online enrichment and activities to engage parents. They are being installed in schools serving economically-disadvantaged children.

When we learned about the Reading Oases being opened in Fort Worth, my mom wanted to bring them to Arlington,” said Kort. “I worked with the United Way team to facilitate the donation it would take to build them in two schools and sustain them for a second year through our family fund at Community Foundation of North Texas.”

The Peters family also has agreed to chair a Reading Oasis campaign in Arlington to encourage other philanthropists to sponsor more Oases in Arlington schools.

Reading Oases are among the United Way-supported education strategies that foster early learning, reading proficiency and middle school and high school academic success in Tarrant County. United Way is committed to helping 8,000 Tarrant County students at risk of dropping out of school to graduate on time by 2020.

For more information about United Way’s Reading Oasis program or to discuss underwriting an Oasis, email Emily.Furney@unitedwaytarrant.org.