Updated

Selected group gets inside look at College Station schools

By HOLLY HUFFMAN

Eagle Staff Writer

Kneeling down, Jason Whisenant listened intently Tuesday as a small-framed, blonde-haired boy read a story he had just written, carefully tracing his pencil over each word as he said it aloud.

“One day there was a man who had a very smoky car,” the Rock Prairie Elementary School student uttered, as he began the story titled, “The Smoky Car.”

The 31-year-old service manager for MicroAge followed along, offering a few words of encouragement as the boy concluded and then easily segued into talk of sisters and soccer teams. After a brief chat and some good-natured teasing between the two, Whisenant shook the student’s hand and the pair parted.

“Good handshake, buddy,” Whisenant said as he stood up and prepared to leave the school’s resource classroom, a place designed to provide struggling students with extra, one-on-one help.

The classroom was one of many educational offerings featured in the annual Educator for a Day program, which spotlights various services offered on campuses throughout the district. Whisenant was one of more than a dozen community members, elected officials and business owners invited into College Station schools to take part.

The program is put together by the College Station school district Education Foundation. Others who participated Tuesday included College Station City Councilwoman Susan Lancaster, state Rep. Fred Brown and Royce Hickman, the executive director of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce.

“We get people into our schools and give them a brief idea of what CSISD does day to day,” said Ann Ganter, district spokeswoman and director of the Education Foundation.

After spending the morning in the classroom, participants and the educators with whom they had been paired met at Outback Steakhouse to discuss their experiences over lunch, Ganter said.

Donna Adams, the College Station school district’s director of special services, was matched up with Whisenant, leading him first through Southwood Valley Elementary School and then Rock Prairie Elementary. At the first campus, the two visited the special education classes. They walked through dyslexia and resource classes at the second school.

“It’s allowing him to see the variety of students that receive services and the different kinds of needs that are being supported,” she said.

Whisenant said the day proved to be an eye-opening experience for him. He met a terminally ill young boy in Hospice care who was still attending class because of his love for school, he said. And, he said, he met a young girl in a wheelchair who participated in her physical education class with the help of a fellow student.

“I love kids,” he said. “It’s a thrill for me to be able to be a part of this and see how these wonderful kids are getting a chance to succeed and not just shoved off to the side.”

• Holly Huffman’s e-mail address is hhuffman@theeagle.com.

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