Athletics changing lives at Rawson Saunders school
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
There's no mistaking when it's gameday at Rawson Saunders.
"They can take it overboard a little bit, sometimes. They get ruckous in classrooms, and teachers are coming to me [saying], 'Good luck in your game, that's all they were talking about in class'. So yeah, they get pretty excited," says Jeremy Martin, the school's Athletics Director.
And to think a short time ago, gameday's didn't even exist for the Panthers.
When Martin assumed the school's newly-created position of Athletics Coordinator in 2011, sports didn't have much of a presence at the school for 1-8 graders.
There was PE class, and that was it.
"My first day, I opened the shed, which had all the P.E. equipment, and there was old basketballs, no volleyballs, no footballs. I opened the door and I said, 'Man -- what did I get myself into?'" remembers Martin.
What he got himself into was something incredibly rewarding, something that's changing the lives of his students.
"You feel a part of something more than just friends at school. You get to be part of a whole team. It's an amazing feeling," says 8th grader Ruth Black.
Like the rest of the 100 or so students at the Austin school, Ruth Black has dyslexia, a learning disability that impairs a person's ability to read and write.
Think back to being a kid -- even the smallest problems made us self-conscious, so you can imagine the impact dyslexia has on these kids self-esteem.
"When you're in the classroom, it's hard -- you have to work harder. But this frees you of that. You don't have to worry about reading something. It's all about getting in there and getting physical and just doing something you enjoy," Black says.
For the second straight year, 6-8 graders at the unique school are taking part in organized, after-school sports.
It's a small addition to the school's curriculum, but teachers believe it's made a big difference in the lives of their students.
"We get kids that are really struggling and often at their lowest, and so that's one of my favorite things about working at this school and seeing the athletic program being brought here. It's just one more piece that makes them such a different kid by the time they're done with us. It's an awesome thing to witness," says Language Arts and Drama teacher Emily Beatty.
Many of the athletes never played competitive sports before putting on a Panthers uniform, Martin says the wins have been few and far between.
But the more important positive impact on the lives of these dyslexic students is happening daily.
"It's pretty awesome. That's why I coach. That's it. To see kids succeed, and especially succeed when they didn't they they could -- that's it. That's the thing," Martin says.