As part of a new incentive program at Monmouth's Central Intermediate School, four Monmouth College football players showed up to have breakfast and read a book to them.
One Friday a month, Fighting Scots student-athletes will visit the school as part of the Books and Breakfast program, which is designed to reward students at Central who excel in and out of the classroom. Two students from each of the 15 classrooms are selected each month for the 30-minute program, which was developed by Central teachers Ann Hulsizer and LuAnn Frye and principal Becky Ince in cooperation with the Warren County Library.
"It's based on the student's performance outside of the classroom as much as it involves the academics," explained Ince of the program to promote literacy and encourage the students to "Choose excellence," which is the school's motto. "We want our students to know what they do outside of the classroom is just as important as what they do IN the classroom. In short, we want them to 'choose excellence' in their daily life."
That philosophy ties in perfectly with Monmouth College president Mauri Ditzlers' ideal of learning outside the classroom. That's where the college's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) comes in.
"Our student-athletes get just as much, if not more, out of this program as the grade school students get," said SAAC advisor Melissa Bittner. "Each month, a different team or a combination of teams will go to Central to have breakfast with the students and read a book to them. It doesn't matter if our student-athletes are education majors or not, it's an extremely valuable experience for them. Whether they know it or not, college students are role models to younger students.
"Grade school students, especially, are like sponges and take everything in, words and deeds," continued Bittner. "I'm so glad Ms. Ince asked our student-athletes to be involved. It's a great way for our student-athletes to impact young people's lives."
Junior communication major Branson Cain of Port Byron agrees.
"We know being part of Monmouth College football means giving back to the community and helping out as much as we can," said Cain, who participated the inaugural Books and Breakfast. "We were a bit nervous at first, but I think we did well. We made good points with the story and really made a connection with the kids. They were great to us and really appreciated that we were there."
Judging by the smiles on the young students' faces, Monmouth's student-athletes will be welcomed back many more times for more "treats" and no "tricks."