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Midvale Journal

Real Salt Lake guest readers celebrate Read Across America Day at Midvale Elementary

Mar 29, 2022 09:39PM ● By Julie Slama

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath answers Midvale Elementary third-graders’ questions about soccer and reading. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath remembers reading “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies” by Laura Numeroff when he was young.

It’s a book that he shared with Midvale Elementary third graders during “Read Across America Day.”

“I love taking part in this day, helping kids with their reading and creating their own circle stories,” he said, adding that he helped in schools when he previously played for Philadelphia.

The professional soccer player told students they can succeed.

“School is important and setting goals in your schoolwork every week, every month and every year, just like I do on the field, is critical so you can move forward and improve,” he said.

MacMath was just one of several Real Salt Lake guest readers that day. 

RSL ticket manager Bryan Funes volunteered.

“It’s a way we, as a club, can be more involved in our community and a good opportunity to help kids anyway we can,” he said.

RSL Vice President of Communications and Public Relations John Genna read to students and had them follow along in their own books.

“It’s a fun thing to see how excited students come when you’re reading with them,” he said, adding that they love when he reads with different voices. “It’s a rewarding experience for them and us.”

Second-grade teacher Jessica Beus appreciated her guest readers.

“It’s fabulous when different people from our community come in and interact with our students over a fun story,” she said.

After reading one of Laura Numeroff’s circle stories, which end in the same place they started, the students broke apart each step of it, then created their own.

Beus, with the help of the RSL staff, led the second graders into “If you gave a second grader a pencil” where they would want paper to write on, markers to draw on it, a chance to fold the paper as an airplane, want to go outside, then back to the pencil so they could put their name on it.

Midvale School Community Facilitator Heidi Sanger said it’s a chance for them to try a literacy activity that tied into the books.

“It’s a chance for them to be creative and to understand what a circle story is,” she said, adding that about 20 volunteers from RSL, CHG Healthcare and parents from the school’s Family Learning Center helped on March 2. “It’s been an important message to promote lifelong reading and celebrate books.”

The books, both in English and Spanish, since the school offers a dual immersion program, were purchased with school funds and by United Way’s corporate sponsors and donated to each student in the school.

United Way Volunteer Engagement Director Roni Scheidler said it’s important to get books in students’ hands.

“We want students to be able to have access to them and create libraries in their own homes,” she said. “It will help them become passionate readers and when they’re older, graduate high school and become successful in college.”

Third-grade teacher Breanna Beltran said it was a fun exercise and opportunity to interact with RSL players and employees.

“It’s definitely special and memorable to have RSL here and have them read them a story and have them help create their own stories,” she said. “The kids are definitely excited.”