UVA Football helps Johnson to Read for the Record!

Every year in October, Jumpstart invites students from all over America to Read for the Record! Here is some more information about the national Read for the Record event from the Jumpstart website:

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® is a global campaign which generates public support for high-quality early learning by mobilizing millions of children and adults to take part in the world’s largest shared reading experience. On October 22, 2015, Jumpstart celebrates the 10th anniversary of Read for the Record with the campaign book, Not Norman: A Goldfish Story, written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. 

If there’s one thing that Johnson kiddos know and love, its the importance of literacy. (Trust me here – my full time job to is to buy, maintain, and organize the books that these kids read… so I know just how passionate they are!) So a day all about the love and importance of reading is right up our alley. We needed to add our 350 students to the list of the millions participating around the country. Which means that somebody had to share a story with Johnson.

But, to be honest, these kids hear me talk about books a lot. They hear their teachers talk about books a lot. And they hear from our school celebrities like Mr. Stern, Ms. Thompson, Ms. FitzGerald, and Ms. Pillow quite a bit, too. This year, I really wanted to go for the wow factor…so I decided to call in some favors.

Some really tall favors.

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That’s right – we were lucky enough to get to spend Read for the Record day sharing stories with Charlottesville’s favorite guys – the University of Virginia football team.

Players spent the afternoon talking, laughing, playing, and sharing with our Learning Leopards, talking to them about football, school, reading, and how they got so strong (seriously, there were so many questions about muscles!). Each class got to hear this year’s Read for the Record story, Not Norman, written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Noah J. Zones.

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My favorite part about the visit came after the final page. As students had the chance to ask questions and get to know our guests better, each young man talked about not only their football experience at UVA, but their studies. They mentioned how hard they had to work academically to make it onto the team, the classes they are taking, and how important it is to them to earn a degree during their time at UVA. They talked about how much they love to read and what they planned to do with their majors after graduation.

I can’t express how much it means to me as a teacher to see our students’ heroes making education a priority. While the guys laughed and the students cheered, I got choked up knowing that what they would remember from this day would be that a football player came into their classroom…to read to them. That they got to sit and chat with a famous athlete…about literacy. I have some street cred around here, but nothing I can say will make reading as cool as these guys did in fifteen minutes flat.

I was blown away again this year by the kindness, patience, and positivity from this exemplary group of young men. They had a 6 AM practice that morning and many had to leave directly for class – but they still made time for us. From the moment they stepped in the door, they were swamped by tiny hands and big questions, and they handled it all, no problem. From bicep curls to autographs, they were great sports and brought so much joy to our building yesterday.

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This was the adorable aftermath of a
This was the adorable aftermath of a “Can I touch your muscles?” conversation.

Thank you so much to these hard working guys for taking time out of their busy schedules to come and spend the afternoon with us. A big shout out to Kyle King, organizer extraordinaire, who put up with untold emails and worked so hard to arrange such a wonderful day for our students. 

I’m noticing an awesome pattern here! See last year’s Read for the Record celebration with the University of Virginia here. Johnson is so lucky to have such an amazing partnership with UVA. Want to see more of the awesome stuff that we do together? Check out the University of Virginia category on the blog here. 

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