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October 2, 2015

49ers players visit Lakewood Elementary in Sunnyvale to promote literacy program

Photos from the 49ers website.

By Victoria Kezra

Read the original story at 

That’s a really big mouse,” observed one audience member in awe of a hulking football player disguised as a rodent.

The San Francisco 49ers paid a visit to Lakewood Elementary School on Sept. 28 to participate in the Reading Partners program. The group of five players gave a lucky group of second- and third-graders a theatrical reading of “If You Take A Mouse To School,” complete with a few of the players acting out the story on the side as the titular rodent, complete with mouse noses.

Reading Partners regularly trains members of the community to work one on one with students to supplement regular school assignments with the goal of boosting fluency, comprehension and confidence in reading. This is Lakewood’s fourth year working with the program, but the school’s first year hosting the 49ers as special tutoring guests.

“One thing about the kids, it doesn’t matter whether we win or we lose or how we feel. When you get around kids, they just love the fact of what we do and admire what we are,” said 49er linebacker Michael Wilhoite. “A lot of us guys are from lower-income schools or have been in some lesser situations, so it’s good to come back and show our face and…share some smiles with them.”

After the reading of “If You Take A Mouse To School,” 49ers goody bags were passed out and the players moved on to help tutor individual students by reading with them and helping them sound out words.

“I think this is awesome because kids all learn different you know, so bring in some local heroes like the 49ers, they’ll be excited about coming to school and learning how to read. I feel like a teacher,” said defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie.

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Wilhoite and Jerod-Eddie were joined by Garrison Smith, Bradley Pinion and Marcus Martin.

Once everyone was settled into their desks for one-on-one tutoring, players signed copies of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go” for their students with encouraging messages to keep them reading. Each player was given a run-through the day’s curriculum and how to help children sound out difficult words. Players helped students work on reading the tricky words by writing on a small white board.

“We saw a book read by 49ers. It was awesome,” enthused third-grader Eduardo Chavez. “And [my parents] will be like, so awesome!”

The 49ers’ involvement with Reading Partners is through the 49ers Foundation, which has supported development programs since 1992. Lakewood principal Pamela Cheng was appreciative that the players gave up part of their Monday after a Sunday road game to visit the school.

“I was glad to see [the 49ers] had fun with it,” Cheng said. “And there was definitely a good connection between our kids and them–you know, that sort of kid genuine connection. The reading and acting out, I thought it was great. I know they drove themselves and probably had to search around for parking. This is a big chunk of their day, so it means a lot that they took the time to come.”

For more information about Reading Partners, visit

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