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Professional Comments

DVD Volume 1 Comments: 2007

A Sampling of Comments from Professionals

Immediately after the WVU Alumni Magazine (pp. 22-23) had a nice article about the SASO DVD Project in its fall 2007 issue, I began receiving requests from former WVU alumni who were teaching and living in other states. As a result, the SASO DVDs also were sent to teachers in Alabama, Florida, Ohio, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and North Carolina. The following is an example of some of the feedback I received.

From a Safe and Drug Free Program Coordinator, in a West Virginia Middle School
Thanks so much for sending the DVD-Student Athletes Speak Out to our school. We showed the DVDs to our entire student body of approximately 450 students at our junior high (grades 7-8).

Needless to say, the DVDs by the WVU student-athletes was a big hit!! The message by Joe Alexander (saying no to drugs), the importance of education by Ashley Banks, self-confidence by Tito Gonzales, respect-bullying by Mike Dent, showing courage by Alex Ruoff, and caring and compassion by Halimah Bashir all seemed to touch home with our students.

We took a few days during social studies class. Most of our students are Mountaineer crazy anyway and recognizing these positive role models was just perfect for this age group. Many students approach me from time to time and say for instance—”you know that fellow Tito Gonzales that talked to us in school about confidence—I saw him score a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl.” Others say that they see Alex Ruoff and Joe Alexander in the news often for basketball. Staying with your studies—message portrayed by Ashley Banks—was wonderful with our female athletes as was the presentation for caring and compassion by Halimah Bashir.

I just can’t say enough about what an excellent idea this was. I am a special education teacher at our school. I also serve as the Safe and Drug Free Program Coordinator for our school. One young man said “as far as bullies go, they’re not going to mess with Mike Dent.”

The strongest message portrayed I believe was that these athletes are positive role models (which we don’t see enough of these days). These student-athletes believe in doing the right thing, being good citizens and role models, and obviously are willing to take the time to positively influence today’s youth.

All of these student-athletes are very well spoken, and came across to the students in a resounding way. We would like to thank you, Dr. Atkins, and the student-athletes involved for making the DVDs for our age group.

From a Seventh Grade Teacher in North Carolina
I would like to tell you that my students have really enjoyed the SASO DVDs! We have one more to complete and then I will have them fill out the evaluations. You and the student-athletes have produced a wonderful teaching tool that is very beneficial and practical in today’s classroom.

From the Assistant Principal in a West Virginia Middle School
Thank you does not seem adequate after viewing the Student Athletes Speak Out set of DVDs. After receiving the discs, I immediately wanted to view them. I had heard so many positive comments about the contents. My intentions were to only watch a couple of the character education DVDs for content information, but I found myself watching the entire set in one evening. The tapes are fantastic and I cannot wait to have my middle school population view them as well. Again thank you for preparing such a valuable character education tool and for involving us in the process. Please consider our school for any future productions.

From a Family Support Specialist in a West Virginia Elementary School 
The DVDs arrived this afternoon. Thank you so much. I will be certain to utilize the website. I heard of the DVDs in my daughter’s WVU Alumni Magazine. What a great service to young adults in West Virginia!

From a Teacher in a West Virginia Elementary School 
I heard about your DVDs through our school counselor and would love to have a set to use with my fifth graders. I feel that they would be a valuable tool.

From the Music Director in a Maryland Middle School 
I am writing in regards to your SASO program. As a graduate of WVU and a middle school teacher, I was very excited to read about the program in the latest edition of the WVU Alumni Magazine.

I understand your program was designed and distributed to West Virginia public schools, but I was curious if out-of-state schools could receive and use the program. Over the past few years, WVU athletics has gained a stronghold within our community. Our school is about 20 minutes from Joe Alexander’s hometown, and I actually have a former student who is slated to receive a football scholarship to WVU next year. I know that West Virginia University’s student athletes would have a very strong impact on my students. I would love to incorporate the SASO program into our Character Education and Advisory Program.

From a Speech-Language Pathologist in an Alabama Middle School 
I have been following your work with WVU athletes over the past several years and have been impressed with the response and success. This week as I was looking through my WVU Alumni Magazine, I read the article about SASO. I was immediately interested because I have worked in a middle school in Mobile, Alabama, for the past seven years. I truly enjoy it but it is definitely a challenge on most days.

My school is considered an inner-city school. It is located only about ten miles from where Pat White grew up and played football in Daphne, Alabama. While our school typically makes Adequate Yearly Progress, we struggle daily with behavioral issues that often relate to character. Of course, we have a school-wide focus on improving character education but I thought your SASO DVDs might be particularly good for our students.

In case you don’t know, Alabama is a lot like West Virginia when it comes to football. Many of our students have aspirations to play in the NFL or NBA. Therefore, I thought our students might enjoy hearing about character from actual college athletes. During this school year, our efforts have focused 
on encouraging our student athletes and cheerleaders to be leaders in our school and to exhibit good character.

After reading about the SASO program online, I understand that it was designed mainly for West Virginia middle schools. However, I am hoping that you might consider sending us a copy of the SASO DVDs. I know they would be a valuable and well-received tool for improving character education in our school.

From the Principal of a West Virginia Middle School 
This is a brilliant idea!! Students at this age need character-building skills now —more than ever before. It is due to the enormous negative influences in society. We work on character each day in some manner at our school. These DVDs will be very helpful because students can relate to the age of the athletes. It is nice to have these student-athletes represent WVU in such a positive way.

Once again, thank you and maybe one day I would like to invite these young men and women to speak with our students. Go Mountaineers!!

From a CEO in Ohio
I am a graduate of WVU with four children, the first of which just started middle school. I am very impressed with your SASO program and I would like to know if it would be possible to use it outside West Virginia. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio, and I believe this program would be a very valuable asset for our community.

From a Student Support Specialist in a Florida Elementary School 
I am WVU alum ‘69 BA (psychology) and ‘70 MA (guidance and counseling). I received the WVU Alumni Magazine (fall 2007) and thought your SASO program was terrific. I am a student support specialist (behavior analyst) in an elementary school preK-5. I feel that it would be very appropriate for our fifth graders. With your DVD, I will coordinate with our middle and high school student support specialists. We envision our high school students making their own DVD for the elementary and middle feeder schools. I understand that the high school is not permitted to use your DVD regarding recruiting violations. I hope that you will allow us to educate our fifth graders and middle school students (grades 6-8) with your SASO program.

Second E-mail from a Student Support Specialist in a Florida Elementary School
We are making progress in creating our own DVD with local high school student-athletes. We are going to focus on three of the DVDs that you sent to me: Importance of Education; Self-Confidence; and Courage and Responsibility. I will send you a copy of our DVD when completed. Thank you for giving us the inspiration!!