Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland met with Olathe Schools Superintendent Pat All to discuss ways in which he could work with Olathe Schools to improve childhood literacy. It was determined that he could make the biggest impact on literacy by working with first graders in Olathe's ten Title 1 schools, and in September, 2005, the "I Read With Mayor Mike" program was launched.
In September, 2005, Mayor Copeland began visiting Title 1 elementary schools in Olathe, reading to first grade students and giving a free paperback book and an "I Read With Mayor Mike" sticker to each child. For the 2006-2007 school year, Title 1 first graders are also receiving free "I Read With Mayor Mike" book bags, sponsored by businesses and civic organizations in the community.
During each school visit, a random drawing is conducted to select two students to ride with Mayor Copeland in the OLATHE READS float in the annual Johnson County Old Settlers Days parade. The 2006 parade float was decorated with a literacy theme by students at Indian Trail Junior High School, giving even more Olathe students an opportunity to participate in OLATHE READS and celebrate literacy in the community.
As a supplement to the School District's regular reading curriculum, "I Read With Mayor Mike" emphasizes that reading is an important part of good citizenship and brings life-long rewards. The program is touching the lives of approximately 600 Olathe first graders enrolled in Title 1 schools.
As the "I Read With Mayor Mike" partnership between the City of Olathe and Olathe Schools progressed, the Olathe Public Library joined with the City and Olathe Schools to form OLATHE READS, a community-wide consortium whose purpose is to promote the value and importance of reading. The City of Olathe seeks to be known as a "City of Readers," which is reflected in the Olathe Reads logo.