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A hero – not just on the gridiron – but in the classroom

2014 May 1
by HISD Communications

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt reads to students at Neff Elementary School, April 29, 2014. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)Something wonderful happened this week at Neff Elementary School that we hope will have a ripple effect throughout HISD. Houston Texans star J.J. Watt took the time to read a book to the Neff students. That was meaningful on so many levels.

The youngsters there had relentlessly pursued Watt on social media with photos of themselves reading, an invitation, and the hashtag #Neffreads4JJ. A few weeks later, they received a response: “I see you @Neff_ES, keep reading, and I’ll see you when I’m back in town.”

True to his word, Watt visited this Tuesday and read from MegaWatt, his own story written for youngsters, about how his tenacity has led to success. They learned a lesson of their own about how their tenacity reaping rewards.

This gentle giant provided a day these students will never forget, when a hero kept a promise and spent his valuable time sharing an important life skill with them – reading.

For HISD, this couldn’t come at a better time. As we embark on our Literacy By 3 program – to make sure every student is reading with fluency by third-grade – an important component will be a corps of volunteers to go into schools.

We will be looking for individuals willing to share time and their own love of reading starting this fall, whether by holding an occasional “storytime,” or making a commitment to mentor and tutor an individual child for the entire school year.

As I wrote in an opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle earlier this week, reading is not only a classroom activity, and to solve Houston’s literacy crisis, the solution must include homes and extend throughout the community.

We’re counting on parents, grandparents, community, government, and business leaders to get involved – to share their time and to teach by example, and we’ll be providing details in coming weeks about how you can join our efforts.

J.J. Watt is a great role model for us all.

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