By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
Since 2002, Mayfield Elementary School second-grade teacher Wanda Wilson has been revered as “the Cat in the Hat lady.”
Students learned how Wilson came to earn that name as she and the towering Cat in the Hat brought new books — and the duo’s comedic antics — to each classroom on Friday.
Mayfield and schools across the nation celebrated the National Education Association’s Read Across America Week, which leads up to March 2, the birthday of famed children’s author Dr. Seuss.
All week, students enjoyed Dr. Seuss-themed activities, such as “Fox in Socks” day during which students sported their favorite crazy socks. Thursday morning, students gobbled up their very own “green eggs and ham,” a nod to the Dr. Seuss book of the same name.
“The students ate them right up,” Wilson said.
Third-grade teachers Regina Clark, Monica Stacy and Paige Walker decorated the halls with Truffula trees and cutouts of various Dr. Seuss characters, such as the Lorax, who “speaks for the trees.”
Throughout the week, district administrators, community leaders and athletes from Eastern Kentucky University men’s and women’s basketball teams read to students.
In 2002, while an education professor at EKU, Wilson was awarded a $500 Read Across America grant, which she used to purchase new books for Mayfield students. Of course, Wilson brought Cat in the Hat along with her.
“Only he was less frisky back then,” Wilson told a group of giggling fourth-graders on Friday.
“To read is to achieve. Don’t forget that,” she added.
In 2005, Wilson came to teach fourth- and fifth-grade students at Mayfield until 2010, when she left to complete her residency and earn her doctorate. During that time, she was teaching some of the students who had been kindergartners when she first visited the school in 2002, and they remembered her as “the Cat in the Hat lady.”
She returned to Mayfield in 2011 to teach second grade and decided she would apply for the grant again. Because Mayfield will be closed as an elementary school and reopened as a kindergarten academy in August, Wilson wanted the entire school to have fond memories of Read Across America Week.
“As they leave school this year,” Wilson said, “I hope students remember me as ‘the Cat in the Hat lady,’ as well as Read Across America Week.”