Cindy Gruden, wife of the Buccaneers Head Coach and member of the Buccaneers Women's Organization, reads to a rapt classroom at Bellamy Elementary School
When you were in elementary school, two of your favorite words were probably, 'Story Time.' And the only thing better than story time was story time with a guest reader.
On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Women's Organization, a charitable group formed by the wives, fiancées and girlfriends of the Buccaneer players and coaches, were the guest readers for elementary school students at Bellamy, Pizzo and Sulphur Springs Elementary Schools.
Cindy Gruden, Jane Parker, Melissa Pittman and Terry Valero spent their morning reading at Bellamy. Laura Howell, Meagan Jurevicius and Linda Oben read at Sulphur Springs, while Barbara Marinelli and Barbara Muir visited with the children at Pizzo.
The women thoroughly enjoyed their visits. Alphabet strips hung over the chalkboards, posters reminded students of the rules for listening, backpacks were stuffed in the shelves along the walls – and the Buccaneer women bounced from classroom to classroom reading stories to the students.
"It shows my students the importance of reading from the community," said Valorie Fish of Bellamy Elementary. "It's not just something you have to do in school, but other members of the community find it important, so they see that it's important for them. My kids were really excited to have visitors reading to them."
Question-and-answer sessions kicked off most of the reading periods, as the women explained who they were, asked if they knew certain Buccaneer players and introduced the book they would be reading.
At Bellamy, the women read to the kindergarten, first grade and second grade classrooms of Mrs. Mrs. Dominguez, Mrs. Dressell, Mrs. Fairweather, Mrs. Fish, Mrs. Lewandowsky, Mrs. Loomis, Mrs. Martz, Mrs. Mosby, Mrs. Rocha, Mrs. Rodriguez, Mrs. Shea, Mrs. Snyder and Mrs. Spillers.
At Pizzo, the women read to the kindergarten, first grade, second grade, fourth grade and fifth grade classes of Mrs. Beulk, Mrs. Garth, Mrs. Prior, Mrs. Sapienza and Mrs. Schmitz, while at Sulphur Springs the women read to the fourth grade glasses of Mr. Biggens, Ms. Jankowski, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Spivey, Ms. Theriot and Mrs. Villados.
The popular books of the day were The Story of John Henry, The Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything, Chick Chick Boom Boom, Stephanie's Ponytail, Pete's A Pizza, My Little Sister Ate One Hare and, of course, The Football that Won.
While the Buccaneer Women's Organization members read the books, the children sat rapt with attention while some of their favorite stories were told to them once again. After reading to a classroom, the visitors provided each teacher with Buccaneers bookmarks, pennants, stickers and pencils for the teachers to use to help encourage the students to read.
"I just love to be around the kids," said Cindy Gruden, wife of Buccaneers Head Coach Jon. "They're all so excited and they're all so well behaved. It's just a thrill for me. They love Buccaneer football and they think it's really cool that someone would come out and read a book to them."
As the morning wound down and the students moved on to their lunch and afternoon lesson periods, the Buccaneer women said their goodbyes and wished all of the students a great day and a Happy Halloween.