Wabash basketball players help instill love of reading in young lives
PART IV IN A SERIES ABOUT THE NCAA DIVISION III NATIONAL TOURNAMENT
CRAWFORDSVILLE – About 150 students at Laura G. Hose Elementary know the team they’ll be rooting for at the NCAA Division III national semi-finals and finals in Fort Wayne this weekend.
They are the Wabash College basketball team members who come to Hose once a month, taking the time to read, play games and offer encouragement to the students there.
In the past four years, Hose and the Little Giant players have participated in “Books, Basketball and Beyond” partnership which brings the players from the college to the school, about 1.5 miles from campus.
“We visited Wabash on a community field trip when Coach (Kyle) Brumett’s son Monte was in the first grade,” recalls Amber Rohr, one of the two Hose teachers behind the program “Coach had mentioned how he liked working with the community in his past locations and would like to continue this in Crawfordsville.”
Rohr and fellow teacher Amy Hensley collaborated with the coaches to devise a way to have Wabash basketball team members come to Hose one a month. With grant assistance from the Montgomery County Education Foundation, the program buys books once a month for 40+ students at Hose. So students in the program will have a Wabash basketball player read a book, and then they get to take a book of their own home to read as well.
AT LEFT: Teachers Amber Rohr and Amy Hensley. AT RIGHT: Coach Kyle Brumett playing educational games with Hose Elementary students
“We see a lot more interest among the students in the books that the guys are reading,” Rohr explains. “Our students love it when the guys read to them.”
Hensley points out that Brumett and others associated with Wabash basketball also take turns coming to Hose and participating.
“Coach Brumett always stresses the importance of reading to students and his students,” she says. “He’ll point to the Wabash players and remind them that they were once just like the young students at our school. That’s a powerful, positive message for our kids.”
This month, the students at Hose have their own March madness “bracket” at the school, a book bracket. Players and others have put their favorite kindergarten and first grade books “against” each other in the bracket. Students get to vote on which book is their favorite.
The program is more than just reading. The players will engage in a grade-appropriate spelling bee with the Hose students using the letters in the words Wabash Basketball, and also will have a kids question and answer session on what college is like.
Members of the Wabash basketball team reading and spending time with kindergardners and first graders at Rohr Elementary School in Crawfordsville, Ind.
Rohr points out that the players are positive role models for the students. The kids pay great respect to the players and coaches who come and read to them, she says.
LITTLE GIANTS LOVE THE PROGRAM
As with a lot of philanthropic activities, the giver gains unanticipated benefits in the process. That’s certainly the case with Books, Basketball and Beyond.
“Wabash College and Crawfordsville have a special relationship. Many of our alumni, administration, faculty, and staff live in Crawfordsville, and our children are educated here,” says Brumett. “It’s important for our students to be involved in this community. It helps them feel invested in something other than themselves, and they really enjoy it.”
Senior forward Kellen Schreiber has been a part of the program since its inception, and he knows the benefits of helping young students.
“Books Basketball and Beyond has built a special relationship with our team and the community around us. It’s truly been a great pleasure … to spend time with the kids,” he says. “As someone who wants to be a teacher, this has been important to me, and it’s important to my teammates as well.”
Senior guard Tyler Watson echoes the sentiment of his teammate.
“Making time for the students at Hose Elementary is the highlight of our month. The joy, energy, and passion that the students and teachers have at Hose is contagious.” Watson explains about the reading program.
“I’ve been part of a team whose coach prioritizes spending time with students,” Watson adds. “The thing I am most proud of and will miss the most when my time is done here is the memories and the relationships I have forged with the students and teachers at Hose Elementary.”
At Left: Hose Elementary students hold up signs encouraging the Wabash Little Giants. At Right: Senior Kellen Schreiber reading to students at Hose on March 7.
One fascinating aspect of Books, Basketball, and Beyond is that it continued during Covid-19. Wabash players would record themselves reading books and share the video via Google with the teachers at Hose, who could then include them in their virtual assignments. When classes in the Crawfordsville Schools resumed in-person meeting with masks, Wabash basketball players returned masked up as well and resumed in-person reading.
INSPIRING YOUNG STUDENTS, AND MUSTACHES TOO!
One big benefit of Books, Basketball, and Beyond is helping to set good aspirations for the young students at Hose. In May 2019, the school visited Wabash College and got a brief taste of life there.
“We also had a giveaway night at a Wabash basketball game a few years ago (before Covid),” Rohr recalls. “We gave books to any child who came to the game, and they got to root for the players who came and read to them.”
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Hose has been unable to schedule the visit in 2020 or 2021. “But we plan to visit Wabash again this spring and show the students what the college is like,” Hensley adds.
Rohr and Hensley have nearly 50 years of combined classroom teaching experience. They both point out how Books, Basketball and Beyond has helped them foster of interest in and excitement about reading and learning for their young students.
One final note: Schreiber has decided that for good luck, he would not shave during the NCAC Conference tournament and post-tournament. He’s grown quite a mustache as a result. The Hose students have had a lot of fun with this, imitating him. “On the Wabash players’ last reading with us in on March 7, the students all put on felt mustaches,” Rohr says. “They said things to Kellen like ‘we must-ask’ you to keep winning. Everyone enjoyed it.”
PART V FRIDAY: Predictions and some analysis of Randolph-Macon vs. Marietta and Elmhurst vs. Wabash