Greenwood students say program is a slam dunk


Greenwood Elementary School sixth graders are bouncing with joy. They’ve been introduced to a new and fun way to learn subjects they struggle with simply by being basketball fans.

Through the University of Rhode Island’s Adopt-A-Team Program, 200 classrooms statewide have been assigned a women’s college basketball team, to follow their stats and correspond with players in order to improve their mathematical, writing and social skills.

According to Alison Litzky, a 2011 Johnson & Wales graduate and URI intern, the program began its full-court press in November.

Self-proclaimed sports fanatic and sixth grade teacher Joanne Colozzi is pleased her students, who have been assigned the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights, are enthusiastic about the program. The children said it’s a ball.

“When we were doing averages for the team, we learned that some people needed to work on their free throws more or practice other stuff,” said Athena Sampalis, 11.

Her classmate Michael Alves, 11, agrees.

“I learned that decimals and percents all come together and you can use them to see which girls do better at each game,” he said.

Ryan Carlson, 12, and Lily Davenport, 11, shared the same sentiments. In addition to math, Anna Mascia, 11, said she learned the significance of working hard, as well as physical fitness.

“It’s good to keep your grades up and be in shape,” she said.

For Emma Seidenberg, 12, she figured something else out.

“You have to have good teamwork to actually win the game,” she said.

Isabel Kennedy, 12, also got a new insight from the experience.

“It’s important to lose, too, so you can learn to accept defeat,” she said.

Last weekend, students were treated to a game between Rutgers and Providence College. They met Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer, a Basketball Hall of Fame member, who sent an autographed mini basketball to each student to keep them motivated.

“The minute you put something in real life and connect it with what’s going on in the classroom, all of a sudden it all makes sense,” Colozzi said. “Struggling math students understand this because it connects math with something real.”

Colozzi, a URI alum, offered her curriculum to the program this summer during an alumni event. There, she met URI’s deputy athletic director and golf coach, Greg Burke, who told her about the program.

She then informed him that she has been doing a similar program at school with her students and he asked if she had curriculum. She showed him her worksheets in a meeting and they got the ball rolling.

“It was an amazing opportunity for everybody,” said Colozzi, who was thrilled the team sent students T-shirts, magnets and corresponded with them by writing individual letters of encouragement. “It was above and beyond what we were expecting.”

The women’s NCAA Regional Competition is March 25 and 27.


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