ANDERSON COUNTY, Tennessee (WATE) – A mentorship program at schools in Anderson County connects students in a unique way.
Every Friday, soccer players and elementary students from Clinch River Community School come together to “Read the Option” and what happens in those 30-40 minutes has a lasting impact.
“The impact is immediate. They recognize the Anderson County football jersey and are very happy to work with them, ”said Principal Darren Leach of Clinch River Community School.
Read Option is a school-based mentoring program aimed at helping children who have difficulty adjusting.
“Our students have challenges to overcome. Some of them are social, emotional, some behavioral, ”said Principal Leach.
One day a week, soccer players show up to encourage the children to behave their best and to work hard in school.
“I think it’s just a great opportunity for us to give back to our community because it’s a little way we can help make the week or the day for one of those little kids who look up to us,” said Sully Sexton, a senior football player.
Each year, coach Sean Jessie says he is impressed by his players’ enthusiasm to serve the younger ones.
“Okay, who’s coming for the reading option?” And all kinds of hands went up. You have to cut the numbers just so we don’t have too many, ”said coach Jessie.
A big problem to have and to prove that the program helps the server and the served.
“Both people, both groups are better at it. Our kids are better off having the opportunity, but seeing these players working with our students and helping them get through some of the things they are working on, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and a sense of giving back and I think that ‘in the end what happens is good product good,’ said Principal Leach.
Read Option is a year round program. Director Leach says the number of students enrolled in the program is growing every year, as is the number of football players who volunteer.