Fourth-grade class gets to know their Classroom Champion, a 2018 Olympic bobsledder
Olympic bobsledder Carlo Valdes smiled from the screen at the front of Dena Morosin’s fourth-grade classroom, answering thoughtfully as students asked him questions ranging from his favorite position on the bobsled to what he struggled with when he was as student in school.
It was the first live video chat between the Shasta Elementary School students and Valdes, their “classroom champion.” Valdes, member of Team USA Bobsled in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang is paired with the class through Classroom Champions, a non-profit organization which partners Olympic and Paralympic athletes with students and teachers. Morosin’s Shasta Elementary School class is one of 240 classrooms worldwide that was chosen for the program.
Fourth-grader Danika Clifford was among students who asked Valdes questions. “I feel awesome about Carlo being our mentor, because we get to know cool things about him and how he learned to stop struggling with things that as a class we struggle with,” she said.
This is Morosin’s third year with the program and she is impressed with the caliber of champions and their abilities to relate to students.
"My students get an adult that cares about them and challenges them to become a better person, someone that celebrates their accomplishments with them,” Morosin said. “They truly get a ‘champion’ in their corner. Our students need someone to cheer for them and support them -- Carlos and Classroom Champions helps me provide that for my students.”
The fourth-graders all wore their Classroom Champions T-shirts with the motto, “# Better Gets Better and Better and Better.” As their champion, Valdes talks to students by video once a month – and also by live chat – throughout the school year, helping them with life lessons such as goal setting, community service, leadership and perseverance.
Morosin’s class incorporates the lessons into their classroom activities and prepares for Valdes’ lessons and chats. During the live chat last week, students were ready with questions and listened carefully as the Olympic bobsledder talked about falling out the sled – not one of his highest moments, he says – and his favorite part of bobsledding – the speed and the camaraderie.
Valdes participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics as a member of a four-man bobsled skeleton team with pilot Justin Olsen. The team placed 20th overall. He grew up in Newport Beach, Calif., and attended UCLA, where he was first introduced to bobsledding by a former UCLA teammate. He has participated in world championship bobsled events since 2014.
This is the third year Morosin has applied for and been accepted as a participant in Classroom Champions. The program also includes a community service component. The last two years, her classes raised around $700 for the Klamath Animal Shelter through penny and bottle drives.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM: The flagship Classroom Champions program partners national team level athletes as mentors with classrooms to make a meaningful and lasting impact on students’ lives by encouraging them to believe in themselves and teaching them skills that will help them achieve their dreams, according to the program’s website.
Since its inception, program has partnered with more than 500 teachers and 125 Olympians, Paralympians, college-student-athletes and pro football players to mentor more than 25,000 students in 1,000 classrooms across 32 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Costa Rica, and American military installations in Germany.
Press release provided from the Klamath County School District.