Collison Teaches Kids to Be Themselves

As Cross Timbers Elementary’s Principal, Cathey Bugg, lined up over 150 second graders into the school library, she tried to keep her secret bottled up.

As a part of the Thunder’s Reading Timeout program, presented by American Fidelity, those second graders were awaiting Nick Collison to arrive. The longtime Thunder forward snuck in the back door of the library to uproarious applause, then proceeded to read a book called A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon to the children who sat with rapt attention. Not only did the children have a great time on Wednesday afternoon, but the Cross Timbers faculty was ecstatic to have a Thunder player reinforce their message to keep learning.

“Their mouths dropped open and their eyes got big and they looked around,” Bugg said. “They were so excited and so surprised. I was so proud of them because they listened so attentively to his important words.”

“This was an unbelievable experience because our Thunder players are our role models for our kids,” Bugg continued. “So to actually have one come here and be here and model good reading, good reading skills and the importance of reading is so critical to our kids because it makes them want to succeed.”

The moral of the book’s story was that every person, especially children, should be comfortable being who they are on a daily basis, and not worry about what other people might think. By eloquently reading the story as the children were able to see the pictures, Collison made sure the stunningly silent audience took home the important message. In a question-and-answer session later, Collison explained that it’s the same lesson he tries to teach his eight-year-old daughter as well.

“Socially some kids have more of a tough time than others,” Collison said. “If kids are confident in who they are, they’re going to be much better off. That’s what I try to do with my daughter. That’s the most important thing I try to get across to her, to be happy with who she is. I think that’s a good message for the kids.”

“For him to be able to discuss the book with the kids and point out the important part, which is just to be yourself, was a strong message for our kids,” Bugg explained.

As a parent himself, Collison was right at home when fielding questions and thoroughly explaining his answers to the kids, giving them examples and analogies that they could understand. After reciting the Reading Pledge, as each student takes an oath to be diligent about their reading and education, Collison passed out bookmarks and wristbands to the bubbling students.

When he left the building as the afternoon came to a close, Collison was proud to have been able to spend a fun, relaxed afternoon with the Cross Timbers children and faculty. In addition, he was glad to be able to help foster one of life’s most important skills, reading.

“They’re excited about learning and excited about reading, which is good to see,” Collison said. “It’s so important that they enjoy it at a young age because it’s like a fundamental in basketball. It’s something they’re going to need later as they get to middle school and high school.”