Complete with voices, energy and even boat rides, Janene Maxon, the Castaic Union School District’s assistant superintendent of educational services, is not letting her retirement, or a pandemic, stop her from teaching kids to love reading.
Aboard a boat on a lake that is her district’s namesake, Maxon finished reading “Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride,” a story set to a pre-K through second-grade reading level about a pig that loves to ride in the passenger seat with a farmer.
Maxon completed the story with commitment, voicing the characters with narrative tone, and even inflecting an accent to make the Southern twang of Mrs. Watson’s character sound authentic.
The assistant superintendent, whose official retirement was set to begin on Wednesday, has been reading the stories on Facebook Live on the district’s Facebook page weekly for any student in the district to follow along. In the past, she’s not only read about pigs and farmers but also “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” “Last Day Blues,” and “That’s Not a Hippopotamus.”
Each time Maxon has taken the story time even further with her use of props that are either fun or are relevant to the story. These include wearing a blow-up pig suit when she read from “When You Take a Pig to a Party” to an orange wig so she could say “Orange you glad it’s Wednesday? Orange you glad it’s time to be nice to someone?” to simply wearing silly, oversized and doughnut-shaped glasses.
“Mrs. Maxon began reading on social media when the school campuses were closed and we were forced to switch to distance learning via virtual campus,” said Charmin Ortega, CUSD’s assistant to the superintendent. “It was her way of helping the students cope with stress and anxiety during the Safer at Home order.
Ortega said that after 32 years of teaching in the CUSD, Maxon’s retirement with the district is effective Wednesday. But Maxon wanted to continue to read to students, families, friends and the community on Wednesdays in order to celebrate Kindness Wednesday.
“She also wanted them to have something fun to look forward to and to continue to feel connected to school,” said Ortega. “That is just who she is; Mrs. Maxon will always have a heart for students and the community of Castaic.”
To view Maxon’s videos that are publicly available, visit the Castaic Union School District Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CastaicUnionSchoolDistrict/.