Secret Readers

April 01, 2021

Who will be our next Secret Reader?

4.1.2021 This week we were fortunate to have two Secret Readers! The upcoming Easter holiday inspired Mrs. Kathleen, Directors’ Assistant, to read Easter is Here! by Lori C. Froeb yesterday. The book is an interactive Little People book, and the children watching enjoyed it.

3.30.2021 Today’s reader was Mandy! Mandy read I Wish I Had Duck Feet, by Dr. Seuss, and she read it with so much expression and fun that listeners were literally laughing aloud. We wish more classes could have been with us today but we’re so happy that we’ve recorded it for everyone to watch later. We’re grateful to LifeSong for bringing Mandy to us today, and to Mandy for sharing her obvious talent with Crossroads!

3.25.2021 She’s a mom of adult children, a comedian, and an actress. She’s sweet, funny, and a friend of Ms. Annie’s. Her name is Dee Watson, and we were delighted to have her read to us today. Dee chose to read the book, Hair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry. This was a wonderful book that was made into a short film which is linked below, following our recording of Dee’s reading today.

3.19.2021 Today, our planned reader had an emergency arise, and was unable to be with us. Fortunately, all is well, so not to worry, and we’ve even rescheduled, which is also good. Who could we ask at late notice? Thankfully, our team members are always eager to lend a helping hand whenever needed. Mrs. Janet D’Amario is our Administrative Assistant who everyone knows and loves. She was happy to help and selected the book Who Wants A Hug? by Jeff Mack.

3.12.2021 Seeing old friends again is always a wonderful thing, so when we got together today with Teria Ardia, we were delighted. Teri is an alumnae mom of Crossroads, and one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Her son, R was a preschool student at Crossroads and he is now 19! Teri zoomed with us on her lunch break. We were so thankful to have her with us, as she read Nuts Anyone? by Nick DiMauro.

3.5.2021 We were so delighted to welcome Natalie Preveza today as our Secret Reader. Natalie is a student at Union College who is interested in volunteering with us, and once our restrictions for visitors and volunteers are lifted, we can’t wait to have her here! She read Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, which is a children’s picture book series by the British author David McKee.


2.26.2021 Everyone who has read to our students through the Secret Reader program has been so great! We’ve gotten to hear some wonderful books, reunite with old friends, and meet new ones. The students and staff members who have been on the calls have enjoyed the time very much.

Today we met a new friend! Michele Kollmer is the Relationship Manager at CAP COM Federal Credit Union. As our readers know, CAP COM has been a wonderful support to Crossroads in the past year and we are so happy to strengthen our bonds with their organization. Michele was very kind and enthusiastic to do this for our students today, and she read Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama, Mess Mess to us. 

Thank you, Michele! We loved it!

2.12.2021 One of the reasons having readers join us via zoom is so great is that it allows us to see friends old and new at a time we’re so restricted in our ability to meet and interact with new people. Some of the nicest people on the planet are the volunteers from LifeSong, Inc., and today we got to meet Jerry and Emily who read If You Take a Mouse To School, written by Laura Numeroff, and illustrated by Felicia Bond. What a great book! We very much enjoyed it!

2.5.2021 Today’s special treat was the book Kindergarten, Here I Come! by David Steinberg, illustrated by Mark Chambers. Our Secret Reader was Mrs. Kelly Young, our illustrious Executive Director! Kelly chose this book as a way of giving students, many of whom will be going to Kindergarten in the fall, some ideas of what to expect when they get there. This book is filled with fun poems to help children get ready for school!


1.25.2021 If you’ll scroll down below to our very first post in October when we started up with our Secret Readers, you’ll find that Gayle Rife, Manager of the Rite Aid Foundation’s Kid Cents Program was the first to volunteer to read to us! We were thrilled that Gayle came back to us today with another wonderful book, called Song of Six Birds by Rene Deetlefs. She had wanted to read it with us on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but since we didn’t have school that day, she was kind enough to be with us today.

Here’s what Gayle says about this special book:

The book I selected is “The Song of Six Birds” by Rene Deetlefs. It is a story of an African village girl and her flute. I thought it would be great to read to the children because it speaks to and shows through the colorful pictures, a different culture than we have here in America.

— Gayle Rife

Enjoy our photos and video! Thank you Gayle for all that you do to help Crossroads and other organizations serving children!

1.22.2021 Have you ever thought about what it’s like being a bunny? Or have you ever wanted to be someone or something other than yourself? Today we were treated to this wonderful book written by Marilyn Sadler and illustrated by Roger Bollen: It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny.  

Paige Rueckert is the Community Impact Manager for CAP COM Federal Credit Union. Paige visited our school last year just before the world was hit by COVID-19, and says that she fondly remembers us as her last in-person tour.  CAP COM Cares Foundation has supported projects at Crossroads, especially our Technology development, and we are thankful for the wonderful help of this organization and of Paige herself.

Enjoy the recording of our zoom meeting, and the pictures below.

1.14.2021 We are absolutely enjoying our Secret Readers! We get to see new people that love us, we get to hear new books, and we get to ask questions and tell things to the reader, which helps us practice our communication skills.

Today we were visited by Kristi Miller, Director of Grants and Community Programs at The Schenectady Foundation (TSF). TSF has been in our corner for many years, and we are so grateful for all they do for us. Kristi herself has been a wonderful advocate for our school and has visited with the children and seen our Healthy Food Program in action in the past. Kristi is a working mom of  4 and 7-year-old children, whom she reads books with, including Harry Potter and Pete The Cat.  Kristi likes to color and draw and likes to make snow people. She loves our students, and we were thrilled to welcome her as today’s Secret Reader.

How to Catch a Snowman by Adam Wallace.

1.8.2021 Today we were delighted to meet Susan Douglass and welcome her as our Secret Reader. Susan happens to be the mother of Room 5’s Mrs. Rebecca. She is a long-term Early Childhood Teacher from Saratoga County Head Start, who has now retired. She loves reading to children, and today we were tickled to welcome her to our Zoom station where she read Jan Brett’s The Mitten.

12.16.2020 She’s Stewart’s Shops Public Relations Director, mom to three children, and she has a pet fish named Oscar. She hopes to rescue a dog very soon, and her house is decorated for Christmas. Her name is Erica Komoroske, and today we were thrilled to have her as our Secret Reader. During the Q & A after the book, Erica told us about a new ice cream flavor, hot chocolate and peppermint! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? You’ll have to stop and grab a pint next time you have an ice cream craving. Last week, Erica dropped off candy canes for the students, which we’ve passed out, too! Check out the video recording to hear the story of

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow, by Lucille Colandro.

12.10.2020 He’s a professor at Union College. He’s a dad of an almost one-year-old beautiful daughter. He’s the husband of Room 5’s Special Education Teacher. Today he was our Secret Reader and read How To Catch an Elf! Thankfully, today, technology was on our side and we have a recording to share with our classrooms. We’ve got a video below with portions blurred in order to share the story and not the students.

12.3.2020 Many of our team members know her, as do many past students. She’s volunteered for our events and classroom activities a bunch of times over the years. She’s a dedicated elementary school teacher who is retired and loves children! She’s the mother of Ms. Vicki, Resource Development Specialist. Today she was our Secret Reader, reading The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle. Her name is Mrs. Phyllis Sleeper and we have an audio recording to share!

THANK YOU, Phyllis! We loved your book and listening to you read it to us!

11.13.2020 Some of our students and staff might remember Mr. Rick and his pal, Tugg, as they’ve been frequent flyers of Crossroads for years. Today, Rick read to the children (and adults) via Zoom.

Rick chose the book On the Day You Were Born, explaining that  just yesterday a new baby was born in his family. This was his favorite children’s book for his own children, and now he’ll be sending this book to the new baby.

Tugg also said “hi” to everyone on the call, and then promptly fell asleep as Rick was reading. The children enjoyed seeing him and the inside of his mouth, as shown by Rick.

The students always have some great questions to ask of our readers, and today was no exception. “A” asked, “What do you like to do?” which Rick answered with 3 distinct activities: “climbing mountains, walking in the woods with Tugg, and cooking food.” As the owner of the Cock ‘n Bull  Restaurant in Galway, Rick does a LOT of cooking.

“S” said she liked the book and asked if Rick has kids. He does, he said, but they are grown now, 24 and 27 years old!

The children enjoyed today’s reader greatly, and we’re so thankful for Rick’s time and kindness! And for Tugg’s relaxing manner.

10.29.2020 We had our third Secret Reader today! Boyan Cox Mnahoncak is an author! She was kind enough to spend some time with us today to read us her wonderful book, Pity.  

Pit once lived a peachy life. But when he sets a goal in his mind, he falls from a tree and changes forever. He feels unlucky, but is he? Then Pit meets Weather and things really start to change. A book for all ages, Pit reminds us that challenges help us grow. Weather shows us the power we have to help others grow and overcome their challenges. As found at

Several classes were able to join the zoom reading today, and had a chance to chat with Boyan after listening to her book.

One of the questions was, “what gave you the idea for your book?” Boyan explained that during the COVID-19 shut down, she was struck with the need to share the concept that it’s important to overcome challenges, and Pity seemed to take on a life of its own once she started writing.

She was also asked, “What do you like to do?” Boyan is an elementary school teacher and a mom. She likes to read, write, and she exercises every day. She loves to dance and loves music. She says she loves to laugh, too.

Another question was, “Do you like to jump in puddles?” Boyan said she does! When she comes across a nice puddle, she jumps right in the middle of it! The little girl who asked this question said she likes puddles too.

The students all enjoyed the book and visit with today’s secret reader. We’re so thankful for her kindness and time.

Only part of our zoom session recorded, and we’re including it here for you. This is mainly the question and answer portion, and

10.23.2020 Today we had our second Secret Reader! Matt DeCamara is the Executive Director of the Rite Aid Foundation, and he was gracious enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to read to us today.

Matthew read The Giving Tree, first. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein is a beautiful story of the friendship between a boy and a tree, and deals with the themes of generosity, friendship and compassion. The children had questions for Matt and enjoyed talking to him about the book. Then, we were delighted when he offered to also read Put Me In the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire. This fun and colorful book led to a vote afterwards of whether individual students would rather visit the zoo or the circus. The results were fairly even across the several classrooms; it seems that anywhere there are animals, our students would like to go!

Happily we were able to convert this week’s recording. Find it below!

Many thanks to Matt for reading to us. We enjoyed the visit very much!


During this COVID-affected time, so many things have changed for everyone, including Crossroads. One of the impacts is that we are restricted from having our regular volunteers come in. The children and team members here have always loved seeing them and we miss them all so much.

To make up for this temporary loss, we are working with some of our partners to implement read-aloud times for the students virtually.

Today we had our very first Secret Reader! Gayle Rife is Manager of The Rite Aid Foundation. 

She oversees the KidCents Program also, which has benefited Crossroads so many times over the years. When invited she was wonderfully enthusiastic. “Personally, one of my favorite things to do is to read to my own grandchildren. There have been many evenings during these last six months in particular that I have read bedtime stories to my own little ones via FaceTime. I look forward to speaking with you and setting up time to read to the children served at Crossroads.”

Gayle read It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni which is a terrific story about 3 frogs who discovered that it’s better to share. After reading with fantastic expression, Gayle chatted with the students whose classes had joined. Students said they liked the book, and talked about how sharing keeps others from feeling sad. Gayle shared about her family and how excited she is to spend time with them and read to her beloved grandchildren. She gave the children a task, too: “When you’re playing today, think about how the characters in our book learned to share, and how you might be able to share with someone too.” One youngster commented that she is going to share and has a play-date planned with a friend.

We’re so thankful to Gayle for her time and pizzazz today!



Loving Literacy, Loving LearningCLYNK!