Friday, February 05, 2010

Green Bay's Mark Tauscher connects with students

Mark Tauscher answers questions from Our Lady of Peace Catholic School students Friday morning. (Laura Schmitt/Marshfield News-Herald)

Auburndale native stresses importance of education

By Liz Welter

January 30, 2010

At 6 feet 3 inches and 316 pounds, Green Bay Packer Mark Tauscher, an Auburndale native, is an imposing presence. But this strapping, powerful football player has the heart of a teddy bear with an uncanny ability to connect with children.

It was a dream come true for the third through fifth grade students at Our Lady of Peace Catholic School in Marshfield Friday morning when Tauscher walked through the gym doors of the school to talk with the children.

With teaching experience and a master's degree in education, Tauscher was as much at home chatting with the children about the importance of reading as he is blocking defensive linemen.

"Twenty-one years ago, I was sitting right where you are now and I was having a hard time with reading," said Tauscher, who explained while he was in first grade, he was in a group of three children who had a difficult time learning to read.

It was an unsettling experience because he wanted to be in the same reading group as his friends. So Tauscher went to his mother and she helped him devise a plan to improve his reading.

"At your age if I hadn't come up like I did I honestly wouldn't be an NFL player. Without an education you can't get into the NFL.

"I can't emphasize enough how important the schooling end is to athletics."

His foundation with Associated Bank, Tauscher's Reading Initiative for Every Child to Achieve, has raised more than $110,000 to benefit literacy and education in Wisconsin.

The awed students slowly warmed to asking Tauscher questions. Within minutes, hands were waving for his attention and Tauscher patiently answered questions for 30 minutes, which varied from his favorite color to Super Bowl predictions.

"What was your favorite book?" asked Wyatt Bauer, 11, of Marshfield.

"Charlotte's Web. Did you read it?" Tauscher said.

Heads bobbed and more hands shot into the air.

"What's your happiest memory?" asked Taylor Tolppi, 9, of Hewitt.

"I just got married so that's the best answer," he said.

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