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Athletics & Academics – A sound mind in a sound body

Locke Football 1

By: Cristina de Jesus, President and Chief Executive Officer, Green Dot Public Schools California

I was pleased to read about the successful college-going rate of Narbonne High School’s football team—100% of coach Manuel Douglas’ players are headed for higher ed. LA School Report published a story quoting coach Douglas:

“We’re expected to win games, we’re expected to teach them how to be young men, and we’re unfairly and unrealistically expected to get every kid a scholarship. They can’t control how tall or how fast they are, but they can control how they look in the weight room and what grades they can get in the classroom. I can help them on the latter two, and they could have a great shot.”

What impresses me about coach Douglas’ remarks is that he recognized the challenges he and his students face, but earnestly devotes energy to their academic and athletic success. These are just the kind of values and determination that students need to help propel them to opportunity and achievement. Indeed, the article notes the extra effort educators put in:

“Coach will make study plans with teachers and enroll [students] in tutoring or credit recovery classes after school.”

There are lessons here for all of us in public education. At Green Dot, across our network, we have tried to help emulate these values in our own athletics programs. While not every school has the same set of options, often responding to community needs and student interests, students are encouraged to cultivate balance amid achievement on and off the field. This is why our mission involves preparing students for college, leadership, and life. While we strive toward preparing each graduate for college, sportsmanship, respect, fair play, and dedication are the very life and leadership skills needed to succeed on the field and in the classroom.

Girls Soccer

It is good to see that students who can prepare themselves for excellence in the classroom and on the field are finding their way to college, regardless of their backgrounds. In a public education environment, it is so important that barriers to learning are removed and opportunities to develop the whole student are met with the dedication of high quality educators. I’m proud that Green Dot Public Schools is part of a public education landscape where we continue to find the best ways to unlock the potential of each student.


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