Governor Mifflin’s High School Football team can usually be found on the field running drills or tearing it up at Mustang Stadium after school hours. One place you might not expect to find them? In an elementary school library, curled up with a picture book.
On Thursday, October 20, 2022, junior and senior members of the team paid a visit to Mifflin Park Elementary and Cumru Elementary, two of the district’s elementary schools serving kindergarten through 4th grade. While there, each player was paired with a student as a “book buddy” that they will read with on a monthly basis through the end of December.
This is only the second year that the district has run this program, however, it has already seen expansion. This is the first year that the program was offered at Cumru Elementary and sign-ups were opened to any student interested in participating. Players also visit their buddy’s classroom to read and engage with the full class, further expanding the impact.
“Because I taught at the high school prior to Mifflin Park, I saw an opportunity to pair younger students who love the game of football with an older player that they so look up to,” said Angela Mulhare, a Special Education Teacher, Case Manager, and the coordinator of the Book Buddies Program, “adding books into the equation has been such an amazing bonus; our kids will practice their books for days so they are ready when their big buddy arrives.”
Mulhare also states that coaches of other district sports teams have shown interest in joining in on the endeavor, which could keep the program running throughout the school year.
After classroom visits, the student pairings then head outside to toss the pigskin around, practice plays, and get to know each other even better; a process which further solidifies the bonds built during the session.
“It’s really special for both students,” said Mulhare, “honestly, I think the older kids sometimes get even more out of it than the younger kids do. It instills a sense of responsibility, builds really strong connections, and is just very rewarding for them. It’s just so cool to see.”