Anderson County football players mentor young students

High School

ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A mentoring program in Anderson County Schools is connecting students in a unique way.

Every Friday, football players and elementary-aged students at Clinch River Community School meet up for “Read Option” and what happens in those 30-to-40 minutes has a lasting impact.

“The impact is immediate. They recognize the Anderson County football jersey, and they are super excited to work with them,” said Principal Darren Leach at Clinch River Community School.

Read Option is a school-based mentor program aimed at helping children who are having difficulties adjusting.

“Our students have some challenges. Some of them are social, emotional, some of them are behavioral,” said Principal Leach.

One day a week, football players show up to encourage kids to practice their best behavior and work hard in school.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for us to give back to our community because it’s a small way that we can help make the week or make the day for one of these little kids that look up to us,” said Sully Sexton, a senior football player.

Every year Coach Sean Jessie says he is impressed by his players’ enthusiasm to serve the younger students.

“Alright, who is coming up for Read Option? And all kinds of hands went up. You have to cut the numbers off just so we don’t have too many,” said Coach Jessie.

A great problem to have and proof the program is helping the server and the served.

“Both people, both groups are better for it. Our kids are better to have the opportunity but to see these players work with our students and help them overcome some of the things that they are working on, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and a sense of giving back and I think ultimately what happens is good produces good,” said Principal Leach.

Read Option is a year-round program. Principal Leach says student enrollment in the program goes up every year and so do the number of football players who volunteer.

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