Pen Pal Pro

Carolyn Swords understands the importance of literacy and education. At the end of the 2011 season she approached the VP Operations at the Sky and asked if we could assist her in starting a Pen Pal Program with a local school. A willing fifth grade teacher at R.C. Hill Elementary School in Romeoville jumped at the chance to have her students participate in the program which began with Carolyn writing a letter to the class. The fifth graders then each wrote an individual letter describing themselves and their interests and asked Carolyn questions and herself. After reading the letters from the class Carolyn sat down and put pen to paper to write an individual letter back to every student addressing their questions and allowing them to get to know her even better. This program has proved to be an inspiration not only to the students but also to Carolyn herself.

The Sky chatted with Carolyn from Turkey where she described to us why she wanted to initiate the program and how she is enjoying it thus far.

What inspired you to start this program?

The Pen Pal Program at Boston College was close to my heart. It is a very popular program in which every team is involved. I wrote to the same student for three years before she graduated to middle school. It was exciting to get to know her through her letters and pictures, and then have a chance to meet her at the end of each year. The program promotes literacy while creating a special bond between student and athlete outside the gym. I hope that through this program I can give students the opportunity to learn about my experiences while I am overseas in a unique way.

  What was your favorite book growing up?

J.K. Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released when I was in fifth grade. I fell in love with the magical world she created and the adventurous plot. Her final book came out my freshman year at Boston College, so my childhood reading was punctuated with each of her seven books. I have never read anything with the ability to capture a young reader’s attention like this series did for my family, my friends, and for me.  

Have you enjoyed the letters you got back from the class?

The letters I received from the class were heart-warming and inspiring. I received them one night right before I was going to sleep, and had to stay up and read every single one right away! Each student included their school photo and colorfully decorated the letter. I loved reading about their interests, their favorite books, and their aspirations. I received some very creative questions about my life and my career. I am looking forward to visiting the class in the spring and meeting them in person!

  “I would like to thank Mrs. Anderson, her students, and R.C. Hill Elementary School for participating in this program. I am thankful for the opportunity to connect with the community and some of our wonderful Sky fans!”