Dogs with a Cause continues to inspire young readers and student-athletes

Dec 6, 2023 | Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff, General News, Giving, Partnerships

The Louisiana Tech Clinical Residency and Recruitment Center (CRRC) continues to collaborate with Louisiana Tech Athletics in its literacy program, Dogs with a Cause. This partnership allows student-athletes to be “coached” by clinical residents as they prepare them to teach in their adopted classrooms.

“As we enter year 7, we have revamped the program to visit one area school per month, including all athletes and all education majors. Our previous visit in November included men’s basketball, golf, softball, and football,” said Amy Vessel, director of clinical and professional experiences in the College of Education and Human Sciences.

Dogs with a Cause provides elementary students in Lincoln Parish Schools a chance to read and discuss books with Louisiana Tech University athletes through coaching from education majors. Not only does this encourage a love of reading for the students, but it also fosters a sense of community and mentorship for the athletes.

“I had a great time reading and hanging out with the students,” said Alex Vertus, junior guard for the Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team. “I was amazed at how engaged they were and how much they seemed to enjoy spending time with us. We know it’s important to give back to the community, but this showed us just how much impact we can have on those who look up to us.”

The most recent visit in November was not only for the athletes to read to the students, but also to deliver the 2023 Coaching for Literacy Grant to this year’s recipient, Ruston Elementary School (RES). This grant allowed the RES literacy team to purchase literacy materials needed to improve the curriculum and create an environment that fosters a love for reading.

“We hope that these materials, targeted to support literacy and writing, will help bridge the gaps in students’ achievement and that their DIBELS and LEAP scores show continued growth and success, as well as a love for reading,” said Shuana Vallery, RES curriculum strategist.

RES Principal Mandy Brown, continues to notice the positive impact students and teachers have experienced through the grant.

“When teachers and students know the community is invested in our school, it brings forth a greater purpose and sense of pride,” said Brown. “This act of generosity further motivates both faculty and students because the community is showing they care about our students and their future.”

Since 2016, Dogs with a Cause has continued to grow bigger and brighter than ever. Originally, the program began with the men’s basketball team, but now Louisiana Tech Athletics has recruited all 16 athletic teams to participate.

“Our team really enjoyed giving back to the community and being a positive influence on the younger generation,” said Talvin Hester, head coach of the Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team. “Any chance we have to get into the schools and see these students is a definite priority for us as athletes and coaches. We appreciate the opportunity given to us by Dogs with a Cause and Coaching for Literacy.”

Dogs with a Cause is a monthly event that visits Lincoln Parish schools. For more information about the program, visit the link here. To support the program with donations, visit here.