President encourages literacy in local schools

By News Editor Ciera Golliver

Some may think UNA president Kenneth Kitts spends his days focused only on UNA, but he does more with the community than students may realize.

Kitts and his wife, Dena Kitts, visited local third graders Feb. 22 to deliver copies of “Looking for Leo,” according to a UNA press release.

Advancement Volunteer Macon Jones approached Kitts about some “Looking for Leo” books in Rogers Hall.

Kitts SAID HE wanted to use these books as an opportunity to promote literacy in the community and introduce local children to the UNA campus.

Director of University Communications and Marketing Bryan Rachal said there were more books of “Looking for Leo” in Rogers Hall than officials originally thought.

Because of this, the idea turned from bringing the book to some third grade classes to bringing them to all local public third grade classrooms.

Rachal said when Dena Kitts heard the idea of bringing books to local elementary schools, she thought it would be a good idea to visit some classes and read the book along with the students.

This book gives readers a tour of campus while telling the story of the UNA mascots, Leo and Una.

Two UNA alum created the book, author Dalen Keys and illustrator Walt Vandiver.

The university unveiled “Looking for Leo” April 20, 2012, according to an April 2012 UNA press release.

Kitts read to third grade classes at several schools, including Weeden Elementary, Underwood Elementary and McBride Elementary.

“A love of reading is key to a student’s success,” Kitts said. “UNA initiated this literacy project as a way to contribute to their reading journeys.”

Other UNA representatives brought the book to other local elementary schools. This included every public elementary school in Lauderdale and Colbert County.

This is the first time the president’s office has delivered books and read to local schools.

Freshman Christian Flenor said it is good to see the president involved with local schools because of the message it sends about the university.

“It shows that UNA cares about kids,” Flenor said. “Distributing books is a great idea.”

Freshman Alex Phillips said a book about the UNA mascots is something everyone in the community should support.

“I notice that over the weekends a lot of kids come to visit the lions,” Phillips said. “It would teach the kids about the lions and the rich UNA history. It would be a great educational experience for the children.”

All proceeds from the book go toward supporting Leo, Una and the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat.

The book is available to order online at the UNA bookstore for $10.