It’s a Friday afternoon when David Brackett ’14 leaves “Public Policy” in Ascension Hall to head to his last class of the week—a second-grade class at nearby Wiggin Street Elementary.
The Lords offensive lineman makes himself at home in the brightly colored room, grabbing a child-sized chair and a book—the students like “Arthur”—to read to a small group of attentive eight-year-olds. Brackett then makes his way to the whiteboard, where he works with a few other students on spelling. “I help the teacher with whatever the objective is that week,” he said. “Last year, it was a lot of math tutoring. This year, it’s more about reading and spelling. It’s just a great atmosphere.”
His dedication to Wiggin Street and the surrounding community has earned Brackett a spot on the distinguished Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes 22 student-athletes across the country who are influencing their communities and the lives of others.
Brackett, an American Studies major from rural Ahoskie, N.C., chooses to focus on education, a field he hopes to shape with a career in education policy. When he transitioned from public school to boarding school for “better educational opportunities,” Brackett noted a change in himself, and in his classmates who, he said, “learned to love learning.” He wants to convey that passion to others by applying to organizations like Teach for America, which sends college graduates to public schools in high-need areas like Brackett’s hometown in eastern North Carolina.
“If you’re going to make a difference, you’re going to go to a place where there’s not as much opportunity for kids,” he said. “Teaching them not only the subjects you’re responsible for, like history and English, but teaching them to love learning and to derive a passion for learning is something they’ll remember the rest of their lives, no matter what they do.”
Brackett’s interest in young people is not limited to their education. He is heavily involved in the mission of Flying Horse Farms, a camp in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, for children with serious illnesses. As part of the Serious Fun Children’s Network, founded by Paul Newman ’49, the camp, Brackett explains, is a place where “kids can be the stigmatized word of ‘normal’ for a week in the midst of their disease.”
Making a difference in the lives of others is a priority for Brackett who, as a first-generation college student, appreciates the guidance of his own family members, teachers and coaches. “I have such an amazing opportunity to come to Kenyon,” he said. “I realize the place I’m in. I just want to put myself back in the community.”
Brackett and his teammates will be recognized at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans Jan. 2, 2014. Fans can vote Brackett for team captain once a day until Nov. 11.