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NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour Comes to Columbia


COLUMBIA, S.C. (March 10, 2014) —Hundreds of local students got some Seuss-style inspiration today when they were paid a special visit by the famous feline, the Cat in the Hat, as part of the National Education Association’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour, which hit the road on February 24 and will conclude on March 14.

The Cat-a-Van Reading Tour, sponsored by the National Education Association and Renaissance Dental, is designed to get kids excited about reading and oral hygiene. Columbia-area public schools that received a special Cat-a-Van visit included Bradley Elementary School in Richland School District One and Joseph Keels Elementary in Richland School District Two.

“The South Carolina Education Association (The SCEA) is honored to partner with its visionary parent organization, the National Education Association, as well as Renaissance Dental, in this fun event that reminds children about two things they should make time for every single day – brushing their teeth and reading,” said Jackie B. Hicks, President of The SCEA. “Since childhood, I’ve been enchanted by books, and I wish the same for all children. But children aren’t likely to read much if they don’t feel well. That’s why education about dental health is so important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related problems. Let’s keep our children healthy; let’s keep our children in school and reading.”

“Today was a great day for all the kids who were visited by the Cat-a-Van Reading Tour,” said Andy Berli, an account executive with Renaissance Dental. “As a sponsor of this year’s Read Across America celebrations, Renaissance Dental is pleased to be able to help educate kids about the importance of oral health and reading in a fun and exciting way.”
More than 30,000 special stovepipe “reading” hats, books, toothbrushes, and other goodies were distributed during the NEA’s Cat-a-Van Reading Tour to keep students reading and brushing their teeth at home. NEA and Renaissance Dental officials also delivered grants of $500 each to the libraries and media centers of the schools visited to help keep their libraries stocked with books and other reading inspiration, courtesy of Renaissance Dental.

The Cat-a-Van Reading Tour will log more than 4,000 miles by traveling to 38 schools in more than 20 cities through eight states—visiting thousands of school children along the way. Stops along the Cat-a-Van reading route include Donna, Texas; Edinburgh, Texas, Laredo, Texas; San Antonio; Austin; Midwest City, Okla.; Shawnee, Okla.; Livonia, Mich.; Southfield, Mich.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Indianapolis; Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.; Dublin, Ga.; Macon, Ga.; the greater Atlanta area; and Jackson, Miss.

“Wherever students want to go, good reading skills can help make the journey easier and fun,” said NEA Executive Committee Member Earl Wiman, who participated in the Cat-a-Van Reading Tour stop in Columbia. “Because NEA’s Read Across America helps make reading fun, students want to be in the company of good books—again and again.”
Founded by NEA and Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P., NEA’s Read Across America is designed to get kids excited about reading. More than 45 million children and adults nationwide are expected to participate this year.

About Renaissance Dental
Renaissance Dental provides quality and affordable dental insurance to organizations and individuals nationwide. Renaissance Dental is the flagship product of Renaissance Life & Health Insurance Company of America and Renaissance Health Insurance Company of New York. Renaissance Dental has joined forces with NEA because American students miss 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems, and research shows that students who don’t read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Through NEA’s three million educators, Renaissance Dental is helping to deliver a very important message to students: “2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits.” The pledge asks children to brush for two minutes, two times per day, plus read for 20 minutes each day—for  a daily total of 24 minutes, all focused on developing good oral health and reading skills. Find out more at

About NEA
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

About Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P.
The primary focus of the Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. is to protect the integrity of the Dr. Seuss books while expanding beyond books into ancillary areas. This effort is a strategic part of the overall mission to nurture and safeguard the relationship consumers have with Dr. Seuss characters. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said he never wanted to license his characters to anyone who would “round out the edges.” That is one of the guiding philosophies of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Audrey S. Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss, heads Dr. Seuss Enterprises as CEO.

About The SCEA
The South Carolina Education Association is the state’s oldest and most powerful professional association for educators and the leading advocate for quality public education in South Carolina. Learn more at


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