Instead of picking up cheers at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson was praised Wednesday night at the Kansas City school board meeting for helping to inspire kids to read.
Johnson, an 11-year Chiefs veteran, received Kansas City Public Schools’ Community Champion award for creating “D.J.’s Discover Dens” in unused classrooms at Crispus Attucks, Banneker and Satchel Paige elementary schools. The space is decorated with Chiefs colors and posters with comfortable spots for reading.
The foundation with Scholastic Book Fairs, a division of Scholastic (the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books), stocked the rooms with 1,200 new, age appropriate books.
Johnson, 32, explained that his mother, Beverly Johnson of Waco, Texas, is a sixth-grade math teacher with more than 40 years experience. “I grew up in a home where education is very important,” said Johnson, who attended the University of Texas as an education major.
“I wanted to do something that had an emphasis on education,” he said. “Education is the key.”
He said he plans to expand the Discover Dens to other elementary schools to inspire more children to be lifelong readers so they will make “education a top priority.”
Education, Johnson told the school board, is the only way children in the district can reach their full potential.
“I just take a lot of pride in helping the younger generation,” said Johnson, who was accompanied by his wife, Britni McKinney, and Pam Thorp with Scholastic Book Fairs.
During the board meeting, the school officials played a video of Johnson reading and singing with one group of kids: “The wheels of the bus go round and round....”
It was too cute, especially for a big, professional football player.
In other action, the school district accepted a $37,260 grant from the Baptist-Trinity Lutheran Legacy Foundation, enabling its 27 elementary schools to each buy 30 pocket chambers and 10 flow meters, which are devices that aid in the effectiveness of asthma medication administered in schools. The grant also will provide each school with an audiometer that will be used for hearing tests.
Becky Schaid, executive director of the Baptist-Trinity Lutheran Legacy Foundation, gave a poster-size check and one that could be taken to the bank to Al Tunis, interim superintendent. The foundation also received a Community Champion award on Wednesday at the school board meeting.