“Toes on the line!” “Toes on the line!”
Every Wednesday afternoon at 4:30, dozens of 1st and 2nd graders hear those words and scurry to mid-court at Thomson Public Elementary School’s gym. They are surrounded by 24 “big people”–students from The School for Ethics and Global Leadership who give their time to our “Books and Basketball” community service program.
Thomson is a Title I DC public school; 99% of its students receive free or reduced-price lunch. Nearly 2/3rds of its students are Latino/a, 20% are Chinese, and the remainder are African American. Most of the Latino and Chinese students are English language learners and come from immigrant families.
For half an hour, we teach basketball in a fun, positive environment. The students learn teamwork, discipline, and fine motor skills. And then we read with the students for another half hour. The students get one-on-one or small group attention that is exceedingly rare in their day-to-day lives.
It’s a simple program with a big impact on both Thomson and SEGL students. It is easy to measure reading and basketball progress over the course of the semester. And it is easy to see our SEGL students growing in confidence as they try different mentoring strategies to inspire their charges.