Matt Birk Kicks Off Reading Incentive Program

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As an elementary school student, the sky was the limit for Ravens center Matt Birk. A young Birk explored his future career options through books, dreaming of one day becoming an astronaut, scientist or president of the United States. Now, as a Harvard University graduate and Ravens player, Birk hopes to ignite the same energy and passion for learning and reading that his parents and teachers instilled in him as a boy.

On Tuesday (9/13), the six-time Pro Bowler hosted an assembly at Taneytown Elementary School to kick off his Ready, Set, Read! Program. Talking briefly about his football career, Birk emphasized how you can be anything you want to be as long as you study hard and work hard. He encouraged kids to read for fun and explained how books are a great way to explore the world.

Towering over the group of 500 mesmerized students, Birk read his family's favorite book "Miss Nelson Has a Field Day" during the assembly and left the children in suspense when he ended the story with a cliffhanger. "If you want to know what happens at the end, you'll just have to go check out the book at your media center," said Birk with a huge grin.

The Ready, Set, Read! Program is a partnership between Carroll County Public Schools and Birk's HIKE (Hope, Inspiration, Knowledge and Education) Foundation. The goal of the program is to motivate and encourage more than 100,000 elementary school children to read at home. Students in grades K-5 will receive a Ravens themed notebook to record the number of minutes they read each day and to write letters to Birk on their progress.

The incentive-based program rewards students who meet the reading and writing goals each quarter with prizes, including Ravens jerseys, footballs and other team-related items, which are raffled. At the end of the program, two students from each elementary school will be randomly selected to take a special tour of M&T Bank Stadium and have lunch with Birk.

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