Cindy Gruden of the Buccaneers Women's Organization reads to students at Kenly Elementary
As popular as Jon Gruden is in the Bay area – and a Super Bowl title in his first year as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him very popular – there is at least one small corner of the community where he has some serious competition for the area's Favorite Gruden.
At Kenly Elementary, the kids dig Coach Gruden, who they know affectionately as 'Chucky.' It's just that they are now quite fond of his wife, Cindy, as well.
On Thursday, Cindy visited Kenly to read to the kindergarten and first grade classrooms as part of the Buccaneers Women's Organizations annual reading event. The Women's group actually hit a series of Bay area elementary schools, as Kate Jenkins and Natalie Wade read at Edison Elementary, Linda Ruskell and Dani Wilson read at Oak Park Elementary and Beth Tupa and Terry Valero read at West Tampa Elementary.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Women's Organization is a charitable group formed by the wives, fiancées and girlfriends of the Buccaneer players and coaches. Members of the organization volunteer at different times throughout the season in an effort to benefit the community that they live in.
In the case of Thursday's school visits, Cindy Gruden and the gang were interested in promoting reading to the young students. They hoped to help the children understand that reading is a fundamental part of education...and to have a little fun at the same time.
The students at Kenly were certainly excited by the visit, as was their principal, Carolyn Hill.
"It means so much to our boys and girls," said Hill. "This is just such a blessing. I know our kids appreciate it and they'll remember this for a long time."
At Kenly, Gruden read to the kindergarten and first grade classes of Ms. Aldridge, Ms. Benjamin, Ms. Clements, Mr. Felder, Ms. France, Ms. Grundler, Ms. Gsell, Ms. Smith and Ms. Stone. Jenkins and Wade read Spider School and Bad Boys to the kindergarten and first grade classes of Ms. Barber, Ms. Dorta, Ms. James, Ms. Kubon, Ms. Levins, Ms. Mason, Ms. Ortiz, Ms. Roberts, Ms. Rood and Ms. Smith at Edison Elementary.
At Oak Park, Ruskell and Wilson spread some holiday spirit, reading The Grinch That Stole Christmas, The Gingerbread Baby, The Secret Keeper and The Christmas Box to third graders. Tupa and Valero did the same at West Tampa Elementary, sharing Snowmen at Night, We Dream of a World, How Santa Lost His Job, Grandpa's Teeth, and The Cat in the Hat to all of the second graders.
After each classroom reading, the visiting Buccaneer representatives provided the teachers with books provided by the team, helping to further encourage the students to read.
"I just love to be around the kids," said Gruden, who has three boys of her own. "The classes are so well-behaved and it's nice just to be out in the community and giving back."