Students Learning About Golf and Life in Program Initiated by Trustee Williams
The Mount Vernon City School District has paired up with the First Tee Metropolitan New York chapter to begin teaching a group of 15 elementary students, mostly from Lincoln School, about golf and a little bit more. It’s the first golf program of its kind at the elementary level in the district.
“We wanted to pilot it and see how it would do for the district,” said Board Trustee Israel Williams, who started the initiative. Instructors from First Tee spend an hour after school each Wednesday for five weeks teaching fifth-through-seventh-grade boys and girls about golf, good sportsmanship, courtesy and manners.
First Tee is a national nonprofit organization with the mission to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf, with a focus of serving minority and underprivileged youth.
The program is covered by donations made to First Tee, so there is no cost to the school district.
Williams said the students are introduced to the game in the Lincoln gym for five weeks, then in the spring, the students will visit Mosholu Golf Course for six weeks.
“While they are learning about golf they will also be introduced to careers, career paths, internships and summer jobs,” he said. “They’ll be introduced to that world.”
Classes are taught by a PGA professional – Anthony Rodriguez, the First Tee chapter’s Senior Program Director. He developed his craft alongside some of the most highly regarded PGA professionals and instructors in the game.
He creates activity-based lesson plans, teaching students about golf along with life skills, like good sportsmanship, and healthy habits. What makes it most successful, he said, is the bond that’s created between the student and the organization.
“Our program is about relationship building, about introducing life skills, healthy habits and education through the game of golf,” Rodriguez said. “We develop relationships with the kids, parents, guardians, counselors and the coaches. We try to spend time with people and build relationships with kids.”
Rodriguez said the program works with 550 kids each week and is looking forward to building a bigger relationship with Mount Vernon families.
“We wanted to bring it in and then hopefully expand the program so it will have an impact on each school in the district,” Williams said.