The Jacksonville Jaguars and Northshore Elementary had an end-of-the-school-year celebration recently to commemorate the Jaguars Readers Program. The Readers Program, which began in 1997, was designed for Jaguars staff members to read with a first grade or second grade student each week in hopes of increasing the students' reading level. Each staff member is assigned three students and spends 20-30 minutes alone with each student every week.
"When we first started this program we thought this would be a good thing, but in the end this has become a wonderful thing," said Delores Barr Weaver, Chair/CEO of the Jaguars Foundation. "The children look so forward to their reader coming each week."
Weaver added, "When you see the kids hanging on the backs and arms of our readers you know how much it means to the children that we come here each week. This is the brightest moment in some of these kids' lives, to read with somebody from the Jaguars."
The readers' party celebration was attended by Jaguars players, members of the ROAR and all the staff members who participated in the program. Cupcakes and juice were served and each child received a "goody bag" from the Jaguars that included books, posters and school packets.
"We had a great year working with Northshore Elementary," said Rhonda Charles, an executive assistant with the Jaguars who oversees the program. "Our staff was extremely excited with the program this year. Many of them fell in love with the children that they were helping each week."
"It has been absolutely fabulous for us to have the bond with the Jaguars like we do. The kids really looked forward to them coming each week." said Christina Lord, Principal of Northshore.
The Jaguars are planning on teaming up with Northshore Elementary again next school year. The organization commits to a school on a two-year basis in hopes of an improved reading level by the students over the duration of the program.