After working for years as a substitute teacher for WISD, Angie Shaw became the computer paraprofessional at Northside Elementary two years ago.
Several months ago, Shaw came up with a program with the theme “Athletes with a Purpose” for the 2007-08 school year.
“When I first started throwing the idea around, I was skeptical of my ability to build a wall that would truly convey my idea and encourage my students to get involved,” said Shaw of her plan to feature Waxahachie athletes on the walls of her classroom as well as to incorporate goal setting into the curriculum she teaches.
Shaw’s co-worker, Kelly Cole, ultimately gave her the determination to “go for it.”
“She (Cole) urged me to pursue the idea and make it a reality,” said Shaw, who began e-mailing and calling everyone she knew who had children playing a sport for Waxahachie High School currently or in the past.
“The response was overwhelming and I was flooded with stories, action photos and sports memorabilia,” Shaw said.
“At the beginning of school, only the back wall was decorated,” said Kim Harrison, a physical education teacher at the school. “Then students and parents got involved. Now the entire room is decorated. It’s like a museum.”
Shaw said she had such an overflow of items - T-shirts, uniforms, photographs, posters, banners and other mementos - that some were moved to the gymnasium because there was not enough room to display them in her classroom. One such item displayed in the gymnasium is a Waxahachie Indian banner donated by Jesse Martinez, son of Northside custodian Mary Martinez.
One of the athletes featured on Shaw’s classroom wall as an educational and character role model was Harrison’s son, Waxahachie High School junior Drew Harrison, who plays football and baseball and has been on the varsity team of each sport since his freshman year.
Others featured on the wall include WHS sophomore Bridgett Collins who is a cheerleader, a member of the track team and a former member of the volleyball team and her brother, WHS senior Boomer Collins, who plays football and baseball and recently committed to play baseball at the University of Nebraska.
“When Boomer, Bridgett and Drew came through the rooms, they were awestruck,” Harrison said.
“(WISD Superintendent and father of the two athletes) Tom Collins was wowed,” Shaw said, saying her son, Josh McClain, 11, looks up to Boomer Collins.
“Boomer’s converted my child from a Longhorn to a Husker,” Shaw said.
“If you’re going to be a hometown hero, you should be a good role model to these younger kids who look up to you,” Harrison said.
Sports represented in the classroom display include marching band, soccer, girls basketball, boys basketball, pee-wee teams, select teams and others.
“We even have a poster with photos of Northside students with the baseball team on Youth Baseball Night,” Shaw said.
Then there’s the display featuring former WHS students who are now - or were - professional athletes and college athletes, including NFL athletes Montae Reagor and Brian Waters and Louisiana Tech volleyball player Heather Anderson (2001 WHS graduate) and North Texas State University former volleyball player Katy Prokof (2004 WHS graduate).
“She (Prokof) was the WHS valedictorian of her class,” Harrison said.
Two Northside teachers have also loaned their sports mementos to the effort: Micah Ashmore King brought her WHS mascot uniform and Dana Williams James brought her mascot megaphone and Cherokee Charmer jacket to add to the collection.
“It shows these kids that teachers also used their sports ability as a way to get into college,” Shaw said.
“And it (sports) keeps them out of trouble, too,” Harrison said, noting another important reason for students to pursue sports.
Shaw’s said she chose the theme to show students how Waxahachie graduates have gone on to further their education by using their sports abilities.
“Even if they’re not going to college with their abilities, kids need a ‘family.’ They need something to be a part of,” Harrison said.
“I thought it would inspire and motivate my students to be surrounded by positive images of previous Waxahachie students that furthered their education through athletics and continued on to lead successful lives,” said Shaw, who believes that being involved in a team helps teach students life skills.
“Athletics helps build self-confidence, improves listening skills, teaches teamwork and cultivates leadership. These are all qualities I want my students to strive to achieve in the classroom and in their own lives,” Shaw said, saying children involved in sports make better choices about friends and their grades.
“I want my children to see that through goal setting, determination and education, they can achieve their dreams,” Shaw said, noting she’s involved each of her students in goal-setting.
“Each student has set a goal for themselves for this school year,” Shaw said. “Their goal must be one that they can meet this year. We are keyboarding our progress throughout the duration, and the results to date are phenomenal.
“Waxahachie High School athletes are walking role models in the lives of WISD students, whether it is football, baseball, tennis, marching band, flag corps or fine arts. WISD athletes are high profile and constantly in the spotlight,” Shaw said. “These athletes are very important to the youth of Waxahachie because they can look up to them and want to be just like them. In Waxahachie you can truly say it and mean it, ‘Once an Indian, always an Indian.’ ”