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Pro athlete touts importance of reading to local elementary school pupils



Playing professionally in two separate sports was a childhood dream come true for Brian Jordan, who wore the uniforms for both the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons.

But that wasn’t his greatest accomplishment he told pupils at T. Harry Garrett Elementary School Tuesday.

“The most important day in my life came when I walked across the stage to get my degree from the University of Richmond,” said Jordan, the author of four children’s books, who was at the school to promote literacy.

Jordan told the students that he never imagined he’d one day be a children’s author because he wasn’t a confident reader as a child. He was a visual learner and when it came to books, he could see the photos and get what he needed.

He would shy away when the teacher asked for people to read aloud in class, but he knew that he needed to try. On his own, he’d use his finger to highlight the words and figure them out.  

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Former Atlanta Falcon and Atlanta Brave Brian Jordan visited Garrett Elementary School Tuesday to promote literacy. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

“I did it one word, one finger at a time,” he said.

And as time passed, he could slide his finger under the word more quickly as he gained confidence.

Some of his books are autobiographical such as “Overcoming the Fear of Baseball.”

Jordan told the story of being struck in the face by a baseball that almost broke his jaw when he was a child. Through the help of his father, he overcame his fear.

If he hadn’t overcome his fear, he said, he would’ve missed out on 15 years in the major leagues.

Auggie, the Augusta GreenJackets’ mascot, greeted children at a literacy event at Garrett Elementary School Tuesday. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

This is the second consecutive year that Jordan has visited the school.

Jordan started a reading program in Douglas County in 2018. He’d read that many of the people in jail could only read at a third-grade level, he said.

“I wanted to challenge kids to read,” he said.

He partnered with a local school and set out with reading challenges. If a class beat the challenge, Jordan would play kickball with the pupils. And they responded with enthusiasm.

“I played a lot of kickball,” he said.

And last year’s appearance at Garrett ignited an excitement in the students about reading, according to guidance counselor Lutricia Parkman, whose brother is a longtime friend of Jordan.

“Our numbers skyrocketed,” she said.

Books flew off the shelves of the school library, she said.

The school’s goal is to have each family have its own home library.

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Former Atlanta Falcon and Atlanta Brave Brian Jordan visited Garrett Elementary School Tuesday to promote literacy. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

Not only did Jordan visit, but his foundation made a book donation to the school, and at the end of Tuesday’s program, he promised a game of kickball in the spring for those who read the most during the rest of the year.

The literacy event corresponded with Red Ribbon Week, which promotes a drug-free lifestyle.

Stacey Walk, Garrett principal, encouraged the students to celebrate life by engaging in fun activities such as sports or reading books. She also told them to make wise choices because every action, both good and bad, have consequences. And she told them to “read, read, read.”

Charmain Z. Brackett is the managing editor of The Augusta Press. Reach her at charmain@theaugustapress.com 

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