Porter-Leath Hosts Miss Tennessee Serves Day to Promote Early Childhood Literacy

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – On April 8, Miss Tennessee 2016, Grace Burgess, celebrated Miss Tennessee Serves Day at Porter-Leath American Way Head Start and Early Head Start, 4207 American Way. Presented by Shelby County Schools and Volunteer Tennessee, Miss Tennessee Serves Day is a day of service where Miss Tennessee and others in the Volunteer State come together to help meet the unique needs of their communities. Hosted by Porter-Leath, the event promoted Burgess’ chosen cause of early childhood education.

From 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., Burgess and her Court will led children in fun and games that promote their emergent literacy skills. Children were encouraged to wear fairy tale costumes to bring their favorite stories to life.  Other activities included a photo booth, cotton candy and moon bounce. Lunch was also provided.

As Miss Tennessee, Burgess travels over 80,000 miles speaking to 50,000 schoolchildren about character education. She is the Official Spokesperson for the Tennessee Reading Association and Governor Bill Haslam’s Books from Birth Foundation. She also serves as an Honorary Board Chair for Volunteer Tennessee as well as Tennessee’s Goodwill Ambassador for the five Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across the state. For the past six years, she has promoted childhood literacy through her “Ready, Set, Read!” program, which has donated over 5,000 new and used books to children across the state.

“Our dedicated volunteers make it possible for us to serve over 12,000 children and families every year,” said Karen Harrell, Porter-Leath’s Vice President of Early Childhood Services. “We are thrilled that Grace spent Miss Tennessee Serves Day celebrating both our volunteers and our children.” American Way Head Start and Early Head Start is one of Porter-Leath's 15 Preschool locations. Shelby County Schools serves as Head Start grantee and Porter-Leath serves as Early Head Start grantee for Shelby County. A special thanks to The Daily News for covering the event!

About Porter-Leath

For over 160 years, Porter-Leath has been the primary resource for Memphis' at-risk children and families. By focusing on the essential building blocks of healthy development, Porter-Leath not only gives them access to the tools they need, but also a sense of hope. Porter-Leath helps build stronger children, stronger families and a stronger Memphis through its mission of empowering children and families to achieve a healthy, optimal and independent lifestyle. For more information, visit

About Miss America Serves

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, hundreds of Miss America contestants across the country will serve their local communities while raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Led by Miss America 2017, contestants and volunteers perform countless acts of kindness and ask their friends, family, and social networks to donate to the Miss America State Scholarship funds and to local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit

About Volunteer Tennessee

Volunteer Tennessee is a State program that that strengthens Tennessee communities through volunteerism. Volunteer Tennessee engages citizens of all ages and backgrounds in community service opportunities addressing state challenges such as educational, safety, environmental and other human needs. For more information, visit TN.Gov.


Miss titleholders from around the state participated in Miss Tennessee Serves Day fun and games to promote early childhood education.

Miss Tennessee Valley Madison Snipes and Miss Scenic City Christine Williamson led story time.

Miss Tipton County Madison Butler read stories with the students.

Miss Music City Elizabeth Hale helped lead playful literacy activities.

Miss Tennessee Grace Burgess shared one of her favorite books.

Preschool children exercised early learning skills through costumes, face-painting and roleplay inspired by their favorite stories.