All photos by Makayla Puckett
The DuBard School for Language Disorders took “Go Gold Friday” to a new height on Friday, Aug. 30. For the past 20 years, the DuBard school has hosted the Southern Miss football team for Black and Gold day the Friday before the season opener.
“We have the football team come and interact with our students. We share our good work with them and get to cheer on the Golden Eagles,” DuBard School Director Missy Schraeder, Ph.D., said.
The DuBard School functions as a public school which provides full-time educational programming for children with speech or language learning disorders. During the week leading up to the highly anticipated event, students learned language about the players, coaches and football. Schraeder considers it an opportunity to celebrate the hard work of both the students and the players.
“There’s an opportunity to see their good work and just share that and help celebrate their work,” Schraeder said.
Upon the arrival of the team, Schraeder explained the function of the school to the players before taking them on a tour of the facility. Each player volunteered their time to sit with students as well as sign autographs during a small pep rally at the end of the day.
“It’s important because, you know, they look up to us,” redshirt senior Will Potosky said. “I think we’re good role models for them and it’s good being there for them so they can learn from us.”
As a four-year veteran of Black and Gold day redshirt senior Jordan Mitchell quickly befriended two students. The trio discussed homework and handwriting as well as football.
“So it’s good just to get around the kids. I mean, it’s a big experience for us as it is for them,” Mitchell said. “Just getting to know what they’re learning from these teachers here is just a nice experience.”
Amid the classrooms full of gold t-shirts with faded sharpie signatures from the year before, emerged the man of the hour: coach Jay Hopson. Hopson worked through reading exercises in each room and emphasized the benefits of hard work to the students.
“I really believe it’s players and coaches we get more out of it than the kids do,” Hopson said. “You just see so many wonderful, amazing children, and, what always amazes me at the DuBard School is the teachers. It’s an amazing, the job that these ladies are doing, and it’s just it’s inspiring.”
The staff of speech-language pathologists works to close the educational gap for their students to move back into a traditional public or private school classroom setting. With the use of individualized therapeutic intervention, students are able to keep up with the learning curve.
“When you look at young boys and girls that are fighting early adversities in life, it’s certainly a great life teacher,” Hopson said. “When you see how they overcome those adversities, they are truly inspiring to our players, to our coaches, and they should be inspiring to our community.”