As state testing season kicks into high gear, students at a KCS elementary school got an academic pep talk from an Admiral.
In a visit last Thursday to Maynard Elementary School, former University of Tennessee basketball star Admiral Schofield encouraged students to pursue their dreams, emphasized the importance of character and – at the urging of the crowd – even threw down a couple of dunks on the school’s basketball hoop.
During a surprise assembly in the gym, Schofield recounted his own childhood in Chicago, saying that while he was book smart, it was hard to sit still and teachers sometimes had to separate him because he was distracting his classmates.
“I started to realize, I don’t want to be the problem, I want to be part of the solution,” Schofield said. “It motivated me to do well in school, to get my grades, to understand what was being taught (and) also to be a good student.”
Raised in a military family, Schofield said his father had high standards when it came to household chores but that those standards taught him to do things right the first time. He also talked about the importance of character, saying that respect, responsibility, integrity and honesty are important even at an early age.
“Character is not just about how you act here or how you act at home,” he said. “It’s about how you are as a person anywhere you go.”
Not surprisingly, the audience of grade-schoolers had plenty of questions for Schofield, who will graduate from UT in May and is preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft. Asked what career he would pursue if he weren’t an athlete, Schofield said he would probably be a teacher or a politician.
Teachers and staff members also attended the talk, and one asked how he remains calm in stressful situations. Schofield cited the example of a referee’s decision that might go against him, saying that once the call is made it can’t be changed.
“In every situation, you have to understand what your reaction can cause someone else to do,” he said.
When another student asked if he’s a good dunker, Schofield said he’s “pretty good,” adding with a smile that “I could dunk on you!” Students later begged him to show off his dunking skills on their basket, and when the presentation ended he happily obliged.
The visit was timed to inspire students for state-mandated TCAP testing, which is happening across the district this month. Before dismissing the assembly, principal Dexter Murphy gave students a pep talk of his own: “It’s not about the test,” he said, “it’s about doing your best.”
(Click here to watch a video about Schofield’s visit to Maynard Elementary.)
Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website.