Hayward elementary school students are getting a boost to their reading skills through Cal State East Bay’s "Read With the Pioneers" program. Part of the Hayward Promise Neighborhoods initiative, "Read with the Pioneers" rewards the school children with a chance to attend CSUEB sports events and be recognized for their interest in reading.
Last year, the Athletics Department partnered with Hayward elementary schools through Promise Neighborhoods, a federal grant-funded program focusing on promoting and improving education in low-income households. Hayward's Jackson Triangle neighborhood is one of five communities nationwide that was announced to have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Dec. 19.
Read With the Pioneers encourages students from kindergarten through sixth grade to read appropriate grade level books. Every day for a month, students write down how many pages they have read and receive a signature from their parents. At the end of the month, students present the reading sheet to their teacher and schools turn in their totals to the university.
Dawn Ellerbe, assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, noted how the program helped one fourth grade boy at Fairview Elementary School. According to Ellerbe, the student showed disinterest in schoolwork but changed his attitude towards reading and homework after participating in the reading program. The student’s teacher told Ellerbe that the boy’s original motivation to do well in school was the opportunity to attend CSUEB sports events.
All students who participate receive a certificate of accomplishment, a T-shirt, a $5 gift certificate to use in the Pioneer Bookstore towards the purchase of a book, and four tickets to the Jan. 20 women’s home basketball game against Cal State San Bernadino. The elementary school whose students read the most will be awarded a commemorative plaque. Two students from each school -- one boy and one girl -- who read the most will be awarded a trophy, a gift bag of CSUEB athletic-related items, and be recognition during halftime.
At Fairview and East Avenue elementary schools, two of the six schools that participated this year, 82 students read over 44,000 pages. That was a significant improvement over the 15 participants in the reading program in 2010, according to Ellerbe.
“We hope programs like this will allow kids who have never thought of going to college to be more involved in reading and consider a future in college,” Ellerbe said. “One thing the university takes pride in is our community engagement. We want to build relationships with partners from our community, and go beyond just community service.”