Red Wings player promotes reading at Vandenberg

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published March 14, 2012

 Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart reads “Brady Brady and the Great Exchange,” as part of the school’s Celebrity Reader program.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart reads “Brady Brady and the Great Exchange,” as part of the school’s Celebrity Reader program.

Photo by David Schreiber

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SOUTHFIELD — The words “puck,” “goalie” and “zamboni,” were scrawled on the board in front of the classroom March 15, new terms the kindergartners were learning to coincide with their special guest reader that day.

Anytime students in Southfield Public Schools are treated to a Celebrity Reader in their classroom, they’re overjoyed and appreciative. But this time was even more special than most. This time, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart was the one holding the book, the one telling them how important reading is, the one encouraging them to work hard in school.

“I have two boys — one’s 5 and one’s 4 — and I know how excited they get about stuff like this, so it was just a good opportunity to do something that I know the kids will remember for a long time,” Stuart said after taking the time to read “Brady Brady and the Great Exchange” to the class, a children’s book about hockey. “We’re athletes, but people view us in a different light, I guess, and if you get a chance to do something good — I know if I was a kid and I had a chance to experience something like this, it’s something that I’d talk about for a long time. It’s just a positive thing you can do. It takes 20 minutes or whatever, but the effect that it has on the kids, generating some excitement for them as far as reading goes, is going to last for a while.”

Stuart’s visit was in recognition of National Reading Month, and part of the Detroit Red Wings’ community outreach efforts.

“We try to do at least three visits throughout the year for the students, bring the guys out, read a book and try to show the importance of reading in the community,” said Alexa Hinds, community outreach coordinator for the Detroit Red Wings. “We ask for volunteers and we’re lucky enough to have good guys to step up to do it.”

Stuart said he hopes his visit helps generate an interest in reading, and maybe even create some new fans for the team.

“To see kids get excited about just being here, it’s pretty special,” he said. “I guess the biggest thing for them at this age is finding reasons for them to get excited about reading or just learning in general.”

He said reading has always been a big part of his life.

“I can remember some of the first books I read in first grade,” he said. “You get excited about it, about how many books you can read. They had a program where every book you read you’d get an incentive, so I can remember it being a big part — it’s a vital part of the learning process for kids.”

And he recognizes that sometimes it takes a little encouragement from someone other than a parent or a teacher to get the wheels moving.

“I tell my kids to do something or act a certain way and they won’t listen to me, but somebody from the outside comes in and says something, it’s gospel, so you just get a different voice for kids (and) sometimes they tend to listen a bit better for whatever reason,” he said. “I think the biggest part will be when I leave, they’ll go home (and) convey that excitement to their parents or their siblings or whoever that may be.”

While Stuart fits the bill of what one would assume a Celebrity Reader to be, typically the guests aren’t so high profile. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to volunteer to participate in the program, from members of the business community to local residents to members of the law enforcement community to elected officials. The Southfield Sun has participated in the program, Congressman Gary Peters was scheduled to read this week.

“To young children, everybody who walks in that door is very, very, very, very important,” said Joyce Silagy, program facilitator with the district’s Partnerships for Education Council. “They see it through a child’s eyes, and they see that that adult was willing to come in and be with me today. That adult is really special. But when it’s somebody that their parent recognizes or their teacher recognizes and the whole world recognizes and all of a sudden they’re made aware that a person of that stature came in, it really just expands their awareness of whatever that person says they’re going to remember a little bit better. We’re really appreciative of the Red Wings.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to be a Celebrity Reader can call Silagy at (734) 890-2050 or email joycesilagy@wideopenwest.com.
 

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