STAMFORD, Conn., -- Vinnie Fusco is a television executive with NBCUniversal, but he faced a very different audience on Tuesday morning.
Fusco, general manager and executive in charge of production at NBCUniversal’s Stamford Media Center, held court to a group of 17 first-grade students at Toquam Magnet Elementary School in Stamford as part of a campaign to encourage reading in elementary schools.
Arms shot into the air as the assembled students told Fusco what their favorite television shows are before he read to them.
He cautioned the young students that although television is fun, they have to learn to read properly.
“TV is fun. I work in TV, I make my living from TV, but you know what is even better than TV? Reading, and that’s what we are going to do today. TV is great but it has to be in moderation, OK?" he said.
He read two books: "Our Tree Named Steve" and the "Art Lesson" to the students, who listened attentively.
It was the fifth year in a row that NBCUniversal Stamford Media Center held the event, and it was Fusco’s fourth year in reading to Toquam students.
“We made the commitment five years ago when we moved here to get involved in the community,” he said.
Fusco, who has three children ages 18 to 22, said the event brings him back to the years when he was reading to them.
“It’s a trip down memory lane for me. It’s great to relive those moments,” he said.
The event is part of the Volunteer Center of United Way of Western Connecticut’s Annual “Business to Books” read-a-thon, said Bridget Fox, the organization’s executive vice president of volunteerism.
“We bring corporate volunteers to schools and this year we are going into 10 public elementary schools,” Fox said.
Miley Quetant , 6, said she liked "Our Tree Named Steve" the best.
“I like that book because of the name,” she said shyly after the event. She added that number books are her favorites.
Teacher Cathy Austin said the event, which draws in adults from outside the school environment, always reinforces the importance of reading.
“(They) show their love for reading and instill that into the children,” she said.
Austin said she tells her students that there are 10 ways to become a better reader.
“You read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read,” she said, quickly counting to 10 on her fingers.
Joining Fusco were fellow NBCUniversal Stamford Media Center employees: Tracie Wilson, senior vice president of programming and development, Carlos Austin, Juli Nadler, Greg Malvicini, Connor Driscoll, Giuliana Eminente and Lindsay Decker.
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