Room 29 had a special visitor today, his name was Mark and he peeked into our open doorway and asked, “Do you have time for another reader?” I responded, “Class, do we have time for another reader, he is football player from SEMO (our local university just a few miles up the road)?” “Yessssss, pleazzzzzzze!!! they all exclaimed. Our plan throughout the day was to drop everything when our special readers arrived at the door. Pencils went down as everyone starred at the 6 foot 3 defensive lineman with a boyish smile. He wore his red, white and black football uniform “Who would like to introduce our surprise visitor?” I asked as a young boy named Ken stretched his hand as high up as he could. Well, Ken played football everyday at recess break and he had a dream of playing on a school team. I called on Ken as soon as I could get the words out of my mouth. Ken seemed to float right up to Mark and introduced him to the class.
Next decision-what kind of book should Mark read to us? I asked the class, “Would you like Mark to read our class read-aloud or a picture book?” It was unanimous, all hands went up for the class read-aloud. We were reading “Bud, Not Buddy” and it only had two chapters left. Mark, the football player embraced it, and we hung on to his every word. He slowed down and sped up at all the right places, made his voice sound like the characters, and he changed the volume of his voice. It was so good to hear him sounding out a few of the more difficult words like copius.
It was so wonderful to sit back and observe them interacting with the read-aloud book. I had selected a good book and they were really getting into the story. It acknowledged my view on how powerful and important read-aloud time is to every school day. Students were enjoying a novel, predicting and thinking about the characters. As the chapter drew to a close, I asked Mark to share a little advice to the class. Mark stood up very tall, cleared his throat and said, “Study hard, keep reading, respect each other, and treat other people the way you want to be treated.” Good advice and we are cheered for our new favorite football player. Before I knew it, the kids scrambled to find scaps of paper, pencils and pens; then, they politely formed a line in the aisle between the desks in front of Mark. “Wow, we do have a celebrity!” I thought to myself. Students lined up for gym and moved into the hallway. There was one last student
at his desk. Before I know it, Cody drifted by me and whispered, “I’m really not a football fan, but I might as well get his autograph, too.” As he lined up for gym, he reached out towards me with a small white wrinkled piece of paper and said, “Here, I thought you might want one.” Shocked at the gesture, I said, “Thanks.” As I walked the class to gym, I was still in awe in what just happened in the last ten minutes. There were a alot of powerful moments; the read-aloud of course, the football player, the way the class responded and most of all…the special gift from Cody.