Like an open book: Hillsboro Elementary Principal Dryburgh enjoying reading to kids on Facebook Live

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Posted: Friday, October 4, 2019 6:00 am | Updated: 8:50 am, Fri Oct 4, 2019.

Jon Dryburgh’s commitment to literacy extends well beyond the end of the school day.

The principal at Hillsboro Elementary School has kicked off a one-man campaign to introduce kids to the joys of reading when they’re at home.

And he’s leading the initiative from the comfort of his own living room sofa.

Dryburgh, who’s in his seventh year as a Hillsboro school administrator, has been reading books to students once a week at night on Facebook Live.

Dryburgh says the 7- to 10-minute videos that he’s creating are a way to introduce new literary works to children, especially those kids who may not receive bedtime stories at home.

“The kids are enjoying it. I have a few who ask me every day whether I’m reading that night,” he says. “So, for those kids, I know it’s a good thing.”

Dryburgh was introduced to the idea of reading to kids on Facebook Live during an educators conference this summer in Spokane, Wash.

The idea appealed to him immediately as a way to connect with students, although he concedes he’s never been a big Facebook fan.

Undaunted, he picked out a copy of “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” a children’s book that follows dinosaur Penelope Rex on her first day of school, and recorded his first stream the night before fall classes resumed Aug. 21.

Since then, Dryburgh has shared other works such as “The Donkey Egg” by authors Janet Stevens and Susan Crummel and “The Snatchabook” by Helen Docherty.

Most recently, he read Tedd Arnold’s book “No More Water in the Tub” on Monday night.

Dryburgh says he hasn’t had any complaints so far, although Hillsboro Public Schools Superintendent Paula Suda told him to keep his chin up – literally.

“She said if I hold my phone higher they won’t catch my chin,” Dryburgh says, laughing.

“My grandma had a doublechin and I was always proud of her for having it. My second week I tried to hold the phone at a higher angle but I finally decided if I have a double-chin, who cares?”

Dryburgh says live videos aren’t polished.

He believes he uses too many ums and ahs, but in the end those pauses really don’t matter.

“If I make a mistake, I move on. It doesn’t have to be perfect,” he says. “Kids don’t have to read perfectly or be reading the perfect book. They just have to be reading. That’s kind of the point.”

Dryburgh records most of his streams at home on his loveseat or in his dining room.

However, he broadcast one stream from from the passenger seat of his wife’s car and another from his grandfather’s apartment in Park River, N.D.

He attempts to create alone time to avoid interruptions while he’s reading.

“I have my own kids go down to the basement before I start,” he says.

Dryburgh’s Sept. 24 stream had 349 views on Facebook.

Monday’s broadcast collected 158 views with 418 people reached.

The school district has helped promote the broadcasts, announcing Dryburgh’s upcoming online appearances on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s still early in the school year, but he plans to continue his weekly streaming during Hillsboro’s holiday break and throughout the rest of the school year.

He is considering opening the streams to guest readers during the 2020-21 school year.

“How fun would that be?” he asks. “This has really been a lot of fun, but there’s also a seriousness to it, too. We need kids

reading and we need parents reading to their kids.

“We need to show kids how much fun it is to read and be read to.”

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