ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Students at Ensley Elementary will begin reading to new heights thanks to a partnership with the Ben Carson Reading Room Project. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, The Escambia County School Board approved a contract for the first Ben Carson Reading Room to be developed at Ensley Elementary School.

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, students, school and district staff, community partners and special guests celebrated the opening of the reading room at the elementary school.

During the ceremony, students performed and comments were made via video by Carson and guests heard messages from Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, who made the trip to Pensacola to attend.

The Ben Carson Reading Project is dedicated to combating illiteracy and promoting leisure reading as a key to unlocking a child’s potential, according to its website. The room is filled with hundreds of books for students to explore from a variety of authors, topics, and genres.

The Reading Room is decorated with artwork based on Carson’s THINK BIG philosophy. The environment encourages students and their families to come together to recognize the importance of reading.  This project is possible thanks to the support and donation of funds from Bill and Pam Fleming.  

“We are so excited and grateful to create a space for reading for our Ensley Wildcat community,” Ensley Elementary Media Specialist Ms. Alonzo said.  “It will give students the chance to pick a book of choice, to relax, and read for enjoyment. 500 new books are planned for opening day.  The Carson Reading Room is going to increase our students’ access to engage in reading for enjoyment.  We are creating a culture of lifelong reading thanks to Carson’s dream.”

Ensley Elementary School is located at 501 E. Johnson Avenue in Pensacola.