Reading foundation formed

Published 11:29 am Friday, June 3, 2011

Hattie Francis, left, and Sara Johnson are part of a group that's started Jameer Woodley Reading Foundation in memory of the 4-year-old. DALE LIESCH/TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—Jameer Woodley won’t read another book.

The 4-year-old was struck by a bus and killed at Riverdale Elementary School on Jan. 9, 2009.

However, three area women are honoring Jameer — and encouraging other young readers — by starting The Jameer Woodley Reading Foundation in his name.

“I feel honored,” said LaKisha Woodley, Jameer’s mother. “He was a child who loved to read.”

Founded by Hattie Francis, Sara Johnson and Teri White, the foundation will raise money to provide books for underprivileged elementary and middle school students. Francis said the organization is different from Western Tidewater Smart Beginnings, which focuses on early-childhood development, and Upward Bound, which helps high school students. She said the foundation will help students in between.

“We’re covering the gap,” Francis said. “It allows students to keep books, reread them and just possess them. As a literature major, that’s important to me.”

A teacher at Capron Elementary School, Woodley said she appreciates the group’s mission.

“The earlier students begin reading, the better off they are when they start school,” she said.

Francis, who is working on a master’s degree in literature at Virginia Commonwealth University, decided to start the foundation after interviewing former employees of International Paper Co.’s Franklin mill for a community writing class.

“At the end of the class, the teacher charged us with promoting literacy,” she said.

Johnson, who graduated from UNC-Asheville with a degree in music and works as a marketing specialist for The Tidewater News, said the organization, which has three board members and 10 to 15 members, hopes to raise $7,000 for books through fundraisers, like

a softball tournament on Aug. 20.

White, the third co-founder, graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in sociology and women’s studies and is assistant manager at Community Feed and Seed.

The group hopes to have a book giveaway on Oct. 8 at a yet-to-be-named location.

The organization can be reached at