At its meeting on Tuesday, February 26, the School Board of Volusia County approved an agreement with the Daytona Tortugas that establishes unique programs and opportunities for students with an in-kind value of approximately $50,000.
"We are excited to expand a partnership that we've had for years and take it to another level," stated Superintendent Tom Russell. "It's a win-win." The agreement includes five major programs, but is only the beginning of a framework that will support expanding the partnership further. The programs include:
- "Summer Home Run Reading Challenge" presented by the Superintendent and Shelldon - an incentivized reading program for K-8 students that encourages them to read throughout the summer to earn a free ticket to a game and other perks.
- High School Ambassador Program - provides opportunities for high school students from each of Volusia's 10 high schools to participate in hands-on, real-world experiences with a professional sports and entertainment organization.
- Education Day – a fun-filled, educational field trip at the Jackie Robinson Ballpark for elementary and middle school students to watch a game and participate in interactive displays.
- Teacher Appreciation Night – to recognize Teachers of the Year and offer discounted tickets to all teachers to take in a game.
- Extended Day Summer Splash Days – an opportunity for elementary school summer programs that combines a baseball game with summer camp activities.
"As the only sports team in Volusia County, we are committed to supporting public education by providing educational initiatives that excite students and encourage them to be academically successful," stated Ryan Keur, president of the Daytona Tortugas. "It is our passion to be involved in our local school system to encourage the love of reading, inspire students about career opportunities in the professional sports arena, and recognize deserving students and teachers for their achievements."
The Tortugas are already gearing up for the summer reading challenge by planning visits to every elementary school with their mascot, Shelldon. The "summer slide" is a major concern for educators because research shows students, especially struggling readers, can "slide" or lose some of the achievement gains they've made during the previous school year. The summer reading program will encourage students to pick up a book and read, while hopefully developing a love and appreciation for reading.