In a national celebration of the great Dr. Seuss' birthday on March 2, the Los Angeles Rams visited three local elementary schools to participate in the annual 'Read Across America Day.' The team's cheerleaders and front office staffers read books aloud to students and also delivered books to Claude Hudnall and Frank D. Parent elementary schools in Inglewood to enrich their classroom libraries.
As Inglewood Unified School District's executive director of school and community relations, Jacqueline Sanderlin understands the importance of literacy and believes the Rams' involvement in 'Read Across America Day' added a special element of teamwork to the celebration. She believes the issues of literacy are not only meant to be solved school-by-school, but are meant to be tackled as a community.
"It's a special day because we're celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday and focusing on reading and engaging the community," said Sanderlin at Claude Hudnall Elementary school. "It's so exciting to have our partners here, the Los Angeles Rams, who are helping us improve literacy through reading and are working right alongside us. We believe our students are growing through the interactions we're bringing to them. We're reading to them, but we're also finding ways to engage them in the reading because reading is more than a task, it's an experience. Having been an educator for 21 years, these are the types of partnerships and experiences that make me want to work 21 more."
A few of the Frank D. Parent elementary school classrooms engaged in some warm-up dances led by Rams cheerleaders before collectively reading some of Dr. Seuss' most famous literary works. Principal Robert Lawson believes there aren't many role models in American society that can have as large of an impact as those in professional sports. Therefore, he deems it essential for organizations such as the Rams to continue to emphasize the importance of education to our young students.
"The students were so inspired by the LA Rams visit, especially the lower grades who got to meet the cheerleaders," said Dawson. "Not only did the cheerleaders read with them, but a number of classes even practiced some funky dance moves. It's really impactful because in our American society, our young people tend to look up to two major groups of people: athletes and entertainers. Unfortunately, the reality is that most kids dream to become one and don't make the cut. Therefore, I believe that team visits and outreach programs geared towards schools, especially schools that are predominately low-income and majority-minority, must continue to emphasize the core values of commitment and dedication as they pertain to our youth reaching their life-long academic goals."
At Willow Elementary, near the Rams front office headquarters in Agoura Hills, Principal Laura Kintz echoed the importance of reading at a young age. She believes reading can also be an interactive activity, creating discussion and proposing questions that spark others to contribute.
"We loved having the Rams Readers at Willow," said Kintz. "Our students thoroughly enjoyed them! Initiatives like this encourage reading and the enjoyment of books for life. When one day is dedicated to a genre of books, readers learn to thoroughly appreciate those books and seek others. When adult readers from a well-known organization visit and read, all the better! It's important for the Rams and other teams to be involved in the community because we live, work and play in the same town. We support the Rams and are proud that they call Agoura Hills their home."
During the celebration, the Rams also worked with FirstBook, a national non-profit that works to transform lives by improving access to equal, quality education for all children, to provide books to additional schools in Inglewood, Watts, and South LA. FirstBook is currently the largest and fastest-growing network of educators and program leaders serving children in need.
The Read Across America initiative was part of the Rams' monthly Day of Service program. Each month, the Rams front office staff takes time out of the office to volunteer with local non-profits. Since returning home to Los Angeles, Rams staff members have provided more than 3,000 hours of community service and impacted 19 non-profits and 41 schools through the Day of Service program.