AU Jaguars team up with school for reading program in local youth

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The season didn't end the way the Augusta University Jaguars were hoping it would.

While at the national tournament in Tennessee, they found out the rest of the season was canceled, but classes continued, and the team showed why they’re called student-athletes.

The Jaguars are used to on-court success, but this year it’s what they did off the court that got them national recognition. The team earned the Team Academic Excellence Award given out by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“It’s a great thing. We were able to get the GPA needed. We had three players get selected on the team as well,” Jags head coach Dip Metress said.

Metress says despite these trying times, his team was still able to stay focused on their schoolwork, even from all over the world.

“We had guys in Finland taking classes, guys in Miami taking classes, guys in Puerto Rico, guys in Charlotte,” Metress explained.

They're trying to set an example and inspire younger kids in the community.

“Based on the data that the state has shown us, we’ve got two-thirds of students in the state of Georgia that are not reading on grade level proficiently by the end of third grade,” Dr. Judi Wilson, dean of the College of Education at AU, said.

And the College of Education and basketball team joined forces to start Augusta Reading – a program to encourage local kids to pick up a book.

“They’re role models. When they walk down the road, people know them. They know them by name, they know them by face. They watch them play,” Wilsons said. “So, they’re role models that are elevated in a way that I, as a faculty member or as a dean or as a teacher, will never be elevated. They have tremendous influence.”

And with basketball on hold for right now, they can use that influence to make a difference for the kids who look up to them.

“I think this is just the beginning of what we can do with getting Augusta Reading here in our community,” Wilson said.

The College of Education was also supposed to team up with other local agencies for a one-day summit to discuss literary problems in our area and solutions on how to fix them.

Dr. Wilson says they’ve got some other programs in the works trying to encourage people to get into reading and education and they hope to team up with other teams here at AU to make it happen.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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