Tempe 3rd grade teacher helps students 'Read to the Final Four'

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Alexandra Blanchard was rewarded for helping her students get more interested in reading. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Alexandra Blanchard was rewarded for helping her students get more interested in reading. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Her students were all given access to thousands of books online. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Her students were all given access to thousands of books online. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
GUADALUPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Alexandra Blanchard's third grade class at Frank Elementary School in Guadalupe does a lot of reading.

"To read new words, and read about new places, and learn about new things, I feel it just helps them learn more about the world and grow as individuals," said Blanchard.

But not all of her kids have access to books at home, and many of their parents don't have computers.

That's where March Madness comes in.

This year's Final Four is in Arizona, so a company called MyOn teamed up with the NCAA to create a literacy program called, "Read to the Final Four."

Blanchard's third graders competed with nearly 400 other Arizona schools to see who could read the most.

Students were all given access to thousands of books online, and the competition appears to have paid off.

"Students are more engaged, participating more, opening books more," said Blanchard. "At the beginning of the year, it was a struggle to get them to want to read. Now, they have a bigger desire to read."

Stacy Goebel, with MyOn said that Miss Blanchard's class made it to the Sweet 16, despite the fact most of her kids don't have computers at home.

"She's really gone out of her way to find time for students to read before school and after school," said Goebel. "She's really creative about making sure students have every opportunity that students around Arizona have."

As a way to say thank you, Goebel reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to Miss Blanchard and give her $500.

Goebel surprised Blanchard during one of her classes.

"Miss Blanchard is truly an amazing teacher who loves what she does and selflessly and tirelessly pours into her students," said Gebel. "On behalf of MyOn and Channel 5 and Frank Elementary and the Tempe School District, we want to Pay It Forward to you."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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