NJ educators, students crowned reading champs

When it comes to rising to meet a challenge, New Jersey students are never ones to shy away. Educators and students in three New Jersey schools proved that once again as they participated in the annual READBowl earlier this year and emerged as reading champions.

The READBowl, hosted by Super Bowl Champion and acclaimed children’s author Malcolm Mitchell through his Read with Malcolm literacy initiative, is the hottest global reading competition for PreK-8 students. Each year, the READBowl commences on the day of the NCAA National Football Champions and runs for four weeks, concluding on Super Bowl Sunday, as it challenges students from around the world to increase their reading minutes.

Maintaining its football theme, the end of each READBowl week signifies the end of a quarter. After teams input their weekly reading minutes, students are invited into virtual locker rooms where they watch videos from mystery guests who are well-known authors, athletes and celebrities.

Andrea Sarney, an eighth-grade teacher at the Roy W. Brown Middle School in Bergenfield, and her students were crowned the READBowl’s New Jersey’s Middle Conference Champions. Sarney said the READBowl was fun for her students and generated extra excitement because it coincided with the four weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

“I wanted to do something out of the box to motivate my students to read,” said Sarney. “The locker room experience introduced students to different people outside of the typical school environment.”

New Jersey Elementary Conference Champions were led by Susan Murray, a fifth-grade educator, and her colleague Karyn Benchoff, at the Brigantine Elementary School. Murray heard about the READBowl on social media and was inspired by Malcolm’s message that “…reading didn’t come easy to him, but he worked hard at reading because it helps you succeed in life.”

After watching Malcolm’s videos, her students were excited to join the READBowl.

“We encourage our students to read at least 120 minutes weekly,” Murray said. “The READBowl motivated them to read so much more, and it was lots of fun!”

Erin Porter’s Ocean City Primary School second grade class—dubbed “Team Porter”— were crowned New Jersey Primary Conference Champions in this year’s READBowl. Porter explains how the reading event was more than just another reading assignment to her students during this difficult time.

“Malcolm is an inspiration to all types of readers, especially those who struggle,” Porter said. “My students were encouraged by his words to do their best and work hard to reach their goals. Participating in READBowl was a great incentive for my students, and it helped encourage more reading at home while we were in a hybrid learning model.”

NJEA is proud to partner with Malcolm and his Share the Magic Foundation as part of its Read Across-NJ efforts, and congratulates the 2021 READBowl NJ State Champions. Keep reading, New Jersey!

To learn more about the READBowl, as well as two other upcoming events, READCamp and READMarathon, visit readwithmalcolm.com.

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