Jaguars players T.J. Slaughter, Micah Ross, Joe Tuipala and Dan Alexander joined 28 members of the Jaguars front office staff to congratulate and celebrate the completion of the Jaguars Readers Program at Hyde Park Elementary School on Thursday, May 22. Hyde Park Elementary is located on the Jacksonville's Westside. Jaguars staff members spent quality reading time with three classrooms of students, including two first grade classes and a second-grade class, some 80 students in all.
Since 1998, the Jacksonville Jaguars have spear-headed a reading initiative to assist and encourage grade school students to read at a more advanced level. The Jaguars "adopt" one school every two years to give attention to the students who need additional help with reading. The Jaguars employees volunteer to spend time with two or three students per day once a week. Each student receives 20-30 minutes of one-to-one mentoring.
Rhonda Charles, who is an executive assistant with the Jaguars, was appointed to lead the Reader's Program. "We have had much success with this program because having someone there to give the children some one-on-one attention increases their comfort level and their interest in reading," Charles said. The higher their reading level, the more they will read on their own. And if they read more, their grades will improve at the same time, which is even better."
The four players were on hand to encourage the kids to keep working hard to achieve academic success and, ultimately, success in life. The Jaguars players, staff and members of the Hyde Park faculty, shared a lot laughs with the kids along with autographs, pictures, fruit punch and teal-colored frosted cupcakes.