Books and Basketball, Fall 2018 Edition!
ELBOW! OVER KNEE UNDER BALL!
FOLLOW THROUGH! COOKIE JAR!
Every Wednesday afternoon from 4:30-5:30pm, dozens of 1st and 2nd graders swarm around our SEGL students. Tiny uniformed bodies laugh, cry, ask questions, and show off new skills. We are in Thomson Public Elementary School’s third-floor gymnasium for another “Books and Basketball” session: a meaningful change of pace and a wonderful opportunity to both learn from and serve our neighbors.
Thomson is a Title I DC public school; nearly all of its students receive free or reduced-price lunch. About 75% are Latino and Chinese English language learners from immigrant families.
For half an hour, we “coach” basketball in an upbeat, gently-disciplined environment. The students learn teamwork, cameraderie, and fine motor skills. They learn to yell “cookie jar!” after our students shout “follow through” and to wait to run until a “big person” says “go!” (not “go-rilla!”). And then we read with the students for another half hour. The Thomson students get one-on-one or small group attention that is exceedingly rare in their day-to-day lives.
It’s a modest program with an outsized impact on our SEGL students. It is also easy to see each Thomson student’s reading and basketball progress over the course of the semester. And it is easy to see our students growing in confidence as they try different strategies to mentor and inspire such terrific, promising kids.