by Scottie O'Bryan
Senior Jhakeer Jamison and junior Josh Kowalczyk of Jamesville-DeWitt High School both volunteered some time off from their lives to read to a second grade class at Jamesville Elementary School taught by elementary teacher Caroline Tuck. The reading was not only an active learning experience for the kids, but also taught valuable morals to the two J-DHS students.
Ms. Tuck was interested in getting high school football players to read to her class because she knew that her students would really be into the experience. “She asked me if I knew of any football players who would be willing to come down and do that, so I asked Josh and Jahkeer,” says J-DHS hall monitor and assistant football coach James Tuck. Jamison and Kowalczyk were both starters on this year's J-DHS Varsity football team, with Jamison as the running back and Kowalczyk as the quarterback. The duo were both happy that they decided to read to the second grade class. “The kids were really excited to have two varsity football players come read to them, and it was awesome that we got to do it,” says Jamison. Kowalczyk agrees with Jamison that the experience was fun for both the kids and players. “It was fun to go down there and read to some of the kids at the elementary school. The kids thought it was awesome. They had smiles on their faces the whole time,” says Kowalczyk.
Jamison and Kowalczyk each read a different book to the class. “We went and introduced ourselves and told them our year and position. After we told them a little about us, I read a book and then Jhakeer read a different book,” says Kowalczyk. After the guys read, they answered the kids’ questions about the high school and Red Rams football. Kids asked questions such as……. “The kids were really into it,” says Jamison. “It was really fun because they was a lot of young football players asking questions about the J-D football program,” says Kowalczyk.
Both Jamison and Kowalczyk agreed that the best part was the way that the kids seemed to idolize them. “It was really cool that the class looked up to me since I’m a senior football player and they listened to everything that we said,” says Jamison. Coach Tuck emphasized the way that older teenagers are role models to little kids. “Kids mimic the behavior of both adults and teenagers, so not only just parents, but high schoolers as well should always be a good influence since kids see their actions, too,” says Mr. Tuck. Role models can come in any age and can carry both a positive and negative influence over kids and sometimes, people don’t realize the drastic effect that they have over younger kids. Along with teaching positive influence, it also teaches them about both “character and leadership,” says Mr. Tuck. The many valuable life lessons that were able to be taught is why Mr. Tuck agreed to get some football players to read to the second grade class. “It taught me that I’m a role model and people look up to me so I have to always do the right thing,” says Kowalczyk. The way that kids saw two high school varsity athletes is comparable to the way that fans see their favorite Hollywood stars. “I heard that the kids wanted Josh and Jhakeer to sign their shirts,” says Mr. Tuck.
After the great first experience with the football players, Ms. Tuck contacted sophomore dancers Jenna Vespi and Alice Woods and asked them to read to her class. Vespi and Woods came a couple of days before Thanksgiving, which was a couple weeks after the football players read. “It was fun to go back to Jamesville Elementary because both Alice and I went there and it was cool to see our old teachers,” says Vespi. Like the football players, the dancers both introduced themselves and then read a Thanksgiving themed book. “We each read a book about Thanksgiving. The kids loved them,” says Vespi. “After we read, we each talked about our dancing experiences and we also asked them questions about themselves and it was a lot of fun,” says Woods.
Vespi and Woods both had great things to say about Ms. Tuck. “I liked getting to meet Ms. Tuck because she was so sweet and you could really tell that you loves what she does,” says Vespi. Woods agrees with Vespi that Ms. Tuck is a “phenomenal” teacher. “It takes a special person to be an elementary school teacher, and Ms. Tuck is the perfect person to be in that spot,” says Woods.
The four students learned a lot from the experience and both hope to pursue different ways to give back to others in the future.“I would definitely do something like that again. It was a fun time and it felt good to give back,” says Jamison. “I hope I can do something like that again because it’s good for the community,” says Kowalczyk. “It taught me a lot and I would do it again,” says Woods. After two great learning experiences for both the elementary students and the high school readers, Ms. Tuck is continuing to pursue more teenage readers from J-DHS. “Ms. Tuck is interested in continuing to bring down high schoolers to read in front of her class because it’s a great experience for everyone,” says Coach Tuck.