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Wednesday, April 28, 1999

ACU baseball players pitch in to be tutors for TAAS testing


Senior Staff Writer

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire together will never hit as many home runs as 11 Abilene Christian University baseball players in the eyes of a group of kids at Taylor Elementary School.

To them those ACU Wildcats hit a homer every Wednesday afternoon when they come to help third-graders prepare for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills tests which started Tuesday and end today.

“It was really fun,” said Jacqueline Maxwell, who was helped by pitcher Zac Leslie.

“He helped me a lot with adding and subtracting,” Jacqueline said. “Sometimes I would add when I was supposed to subtract.”

For the players the experience has been just as rewarding this semester.

“I think we’re going to be doing it from now on,” said Marc Thompson, an elementary education major from Topeka, Kan.

ACU baseball players started helping with tutoring last year, and their assistance made an immediate impact, said Taylor Principal Cam Hurst.

“We think that was one of the contributing factors in our getting an exemplary rating this year,” Hurst said, noting an improvement over the previous year’s acceptable rating from the Texas Education Agency.

This semester 11 players tutored students in reading and math skills, which are part of the TAAS testing. Each Wednesday afternoon the players would walk to Taylor, across the playground from ACU, and spend 30 minutes tutoring and 15 minutes visiting the students.

The ACU players provide motivation and help with lessons.

“We’re someone they can look up to,” said left fielder Ryan Williams, a marketing major from Colleyville.

In fact, one Taylor teacher told the athletes that after the first tutoring session, the students were so excited they couldn’t wait until the next one.

“They really enjoyed us,” said Thompson, a center fielder who holds the highest single season batting average at ACU at .473.

The tutoring was the brainchild of Stacy Pearson, a senior pitcher last year. It proved to be so popular that the team decided to continue this year, for the students and for themselves.

“It’s like a mid-week encourager for us,” said outfielder Rick Smith, a sophomore human resource management major from Denison.

Another group of ACU athletes gave a pep talk Monday for the students getting ready for testing, Hurst said.

“The kids are being exposed to good role models,” he said.

Last week the students treated the baseball players to a party with handmade place mats as gifts. The players loved the thank-you party, but they agreed they don’t need any incentive to keep providing the service.

“We’re just there mainly to encourage them and help them out,” Smith said.

ACU baseball player Ryan Williams helps two Taylor Elementary School students prepare for TAAS tests. Williams and 10 other players spent time each Wednesday afternoon this semester tutoring third-graders. Photo by Amanda Reiter/ Reporter-News

Loretta Fulton can be reached at 676-6778 or fultonl@abinews.com

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