Vanderbilt baseball players encourage MNPS students to attend class

After the Tennessee Department of Education reported 30% of MNPS students are absent, one elementary school is trying to change that.
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 7:18 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Tennessee Department of Education reports show 30% of Metro Nashville Public School students are chronically absent. That means they miss more than 15 days of class a year. One elementary school is trying to change that.

Inside the Eakin Elementary School gym, before the bell even rings, members of the Vanderbilt Baseball team are the first faces students see when they walk in the door.

“Our mission is to go around the school and give these kids something to smile about,” said Patrick Reilly, a pitcher on the Commodores.

By shooting hoops, or giving a firm high five, the students know their idols will be there for them.

“It gets kids out of bed, it gets kids telling their parents we got to go early,” said Eakin Elementary School Principal, Eric Hartfelder.

He thought of the idea this year. His goal is for his students to dream big and go to college across the country or in their own backyard.

“We want Vanderbilt to be as close in their future as it is in proximity,” said Hartfelder.

“It’s two blocks, it’s not even two minutes,” said Reilly.

“It’s literally a minute away from school,” said Commodores catcher, Jack Bulger. “We are doing it in the morning, right before our classes and we’re waking up at 5:30 a.m.”

It’s an early alarm for a college student, but the grins they put on students’ faces are worth it now, and maybe down the road.

“It’s like a kid saying they want to play in the major leagues,” said Hartfelder. “Well, you might not, but what’s the harm in making that your goal? Because if you fall short, you learn teamwork, discipline, and all the skills to be successful in life.”

Hartfelder says the Vanderbilt football and women’s basketball team help on other days.