Asheville Police Officer reading to students.

A group of hometown heroes is igniting a love for reading at W.W. Estes Elementary School (WWEES) as they join forces to embark on literacy adventures beyond the realms of emergency response. 

The Asheville Fire Department (AFD) and the Asheville Police Department (APD) are teaming up this school year for Heroes for Literacy. Focused on all grades at the school, they are hoping to create a lifelong love of reading in these young scholars.

“For years we have partnered with AFD in the program Firefighters for Literacy,” said second-grade teacher Kelly McDougal. “By expanding the program to be Heroes for Literacy, we hope to strengthen our community relationships with those who work to keep us safe.”

Throughout the school year, officers and firefighters come to the school to read and talk with students. This special bond is something Ms. McDougal loves to see through her students’ eyes. 

“There is something special about the interactions between students and first responders,” she said. “They both benefit from their time together, and the kids think it is so cool to personally know the men and women who show up to help in an emergency!” 

Ms. McDougal said this program has given her students so much to look forward to over the past few years. 

“In the spring the students who show the most growth have the opportunity to ride to school in a fire truck, and, hopefully, we can add police cars as well this year,” she explained. “I hope all students at Estes gain motivation and confidence in reading, but more importantly, I hope they gain respect and a relationship with our wonderful first responders.”

A huge thank you goes out to the men and women of the Asheville Police Department and Asheville Fire Department as they volunteer their own time to support and inspire students.

Asheville Police Officer with students.