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Penguins Foundation & US Steel Partner to Combat Illiteracy

By: Cindy Himes

If you’re a third grader, can you think of a better way to earn prizes and rewards than to be tasked with your fellow classmates to read entertaining stories in books?

That’s exactly the unique opportunity that students have in third grade classrooms in the West Mifflin School District and Propel Charter Schools as the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and US Steel partner to develop the Reading Champions program to encourage students to be champions of reading.

The program will be piloted during the 2021-2022 school year with plans to grow substantially after its inaugural campaign.  Each classroom will be equipped with a library of books that includes special messages written by employees of US Steel.

The program will involve students reading and tallying up their minutes collectively as a class to encourage teamwork.  There are three levels to the program with students starting out to achieve the Rookie Level.

As students progress through the program with their classmates, they will advance from the Rookie Level to the 1st Line Level.  As students continue to read, they will eventually achieve the MVP Level, the top level of the reading program.

Throughout the program, students are reminded of the parallels between the Penguins being successful on the ice and their class being successful in this program.  The Reading Champions program emphasizes that it takes hard work to be successful as a sports team and the same bodes true for being successful as a classroom and reaching MVP status in this reading program.

Just like their favorite Penguins players, students must be dedicated and focused to reach their ultimate goal of being Reading Champions.  Students are encouraged to read for 20 minutes a day – the same amount of time in one period of an NHL hockey game.

As students graduate to each of the program levels, they will receive congratulatory prizes to acknowledge their achievement.  When they eventually reach the top of the mountain and capture the MVP Level, they will receive the ultimate prize pack that includes a special Penguins book and two tickets to a Penguins home game during the 2021-2022 regular season.

The Penguins Foundation continues to emphasize education as one of its structured pillars.  Creating the Reading Champions program with the team’s corporate partner US Steel can only equate to a huge victory for all participating classrooms.