Pima baseball assistant coach Ernie Durazo and three Pima pitchers went to Thornydale Elementary School on Tuesday morning to read with 1st grade classes.
Will Holbrook (Sabino HS), Keith Zuniga (Nogales HS) and Jake Cole (Sahuaro HS) split up between the three classrooms and about 50 students total.
The experience for Zuniga brought up memories when he was in elementary school.
“I remember that I was once that little boy who always loved visitors like that in class,” he said. “The kids were quick learners; they were funny and very interested in the whole process. It was great to see the beautiful smiles on their faces. That made me happy and made me realize how important we are to these kids.”
He is looking forward to the day when he gets to do it again.
Cole was impressed with the kids’ excitement and knows that everyone benefited from the experience.
“You could see all the students’ faces just light up with joy and curiosity. We truly made their day,” Cole said. “Not to mention, when the 1st graders read their books to us you could see the enthusiasm and the conviction in their words. They enlightened myself, as well as Ernie, Keith and Will.”
Holbrook said he had fun and “will never forget some of the students’ “questions” they asked.”
“The 1st graders innocence was precious and their willing to practice their reading skills was fun to see. Despite the disparity in reading levels, every student worked hard and tried their best.”
Coach Durazo was in the same classroom with Cole and sees how important it is for kids to have role models and positive influences.
“As a coach at Pima and a local Tucsonan, I feel that it is my duty and responsibility to give back to our community,” Durazo said.
Veronica Valenzuela, one of the 1st grade teachers, helped organize. She is also Coach Durazo’s sister-in-law.
“It was such a pleasure to have members of the Pima Community College baseball team come and help in our reading groups,” Valenzuela said in an email. “As a teacher, it always puts a smile on my face to see the student excited about reading.
“The players who came were genuinely helpful and eager to hear the students read. The players expressed the importance of practicing baseball so they can be good at what they do and related it to the more you practice school work, the better you get.
“After they left, out students couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had reading to their baseball buddies.”