The Gadsden Times
GADSDEN, Ala. — Thompson Elementary School students whispered back and forth to each other during an assembly, excited they would get to be something most children their age are not — published authors.
Sarrell Dental Center teamed up with the Atlanta chapter of the NFL Alumni Association to bring the Legends and Kids Young Authors Program to Thompson. The program allows students to write and illustrate their own book.
Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will participate in creating the book and will each have assigned tasks. Third-graders will build the characters and their background, while fourth-graders will build the tension and rising action, which will culminate in the story’s climax. Fifth-graders will wrap it up and bring the story all together.
Sarrell Dental is an Anniston-based nonprofit organization that helps provide dental hygiene education for students across Alabama and low-cost care for the state’s residents. Community Outreach Manager Summer Quinn said Sarrell is the only nonprofit in the state that works with the NFL Alumni Association, and the two organizations have been partners since 2006.
The books will be available on Amazon.com as well as in the Gadsden Public Library and Thompson’s library. The story will involve Dr. Marlow, a monkey dentist with Sarrell, and will have an uplifting message about his adventures throughout Alabama and the United States. Characters will be based on familiar Alabama symbols like the Black Bear and Yellowhammer.
Dr. Joe Profit, a former first-round draft choice for the Atlanta Falcons, spoke to the children Wednesday during the assembly and got them excited about making the book.
“We want to emphasize thinking,” said Profit, who spent two seasons and part of a third with the Falcons, part of a season with the New Orleans Saints and two seasons with Birmingham’s entry in the World Football League.
“They may not master the King’s English, but there is somewhere for them to succeed within the broad world of academics,” he said.
Profit said Thompson was chosen because it is a more rural school that may not have access to some of the resources enjoyed by schools in larger cities. He said he wants to bring hope to schools like Thompson because he remembers growing up in a school just like it.
Profit was born in Lake Providence, La., and his father was a sharecropper. His family moved to Monroe, La., when he was 6, but he had to go back to the cotton fields to work with his father. He said he worked as hard as he could so his father could, hopefully, get out of there.
His father gave him powerful words of encouragement — told him not to worry about what others said about his capabilities, because he was just as good as any of them. His father also instilled that he wasn’t any better than anyone else, either, and it is that grounded, diligent message that Profit wants so badly to share with children.
In addition to spreading a love of reading and academics, Profit hopes to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in the students. The books will be available online and for viewing at libraries, but the students also will be able to sell them to their neighbors.
The project will culminate in a book signing by all of the students.
Quinn said the book signing and students selling their own handiwork, complete with pictures of all the contributors, does more than just excite the children.
“It excites the parents, the grandparents and the larger community,” she said. “Our main goal is to educate children.”