"School is the best place for you to be," Sacramento Kings center Greg Ostertag told students of John Bidwell Elementary School when he visited their campus on April 17.
Bidwell third grade teacher Asa Salley was the guest of honor and the reason for the visit by the 7-foot-two-inch-tall NBA player. Asa Salley represents Sacramento City Unified School District as one of its two Teachers of the Year for 2005 and was selected as one of the two Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2005.
Joining Bidwell Principal Charlotte Chadwick in welcoming Ostertag was Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon. Representing Sacramento City Unified School District was Associate Superintendent Joan Polster. The Sacramento County Office of Education, under the direction of Superintendent Gordon, conducts the annual Sacramento County Teachers of the Year program. The Sacramento Kings have honored local Teachers of the Year for more than a dozen years.
Ostertag's visit was made possible by the Sacramento Kings in partnership with HealthNet and NECA-IBEW. Karen Robinson-Salley, Director of Community Service for Maloof Sports and Entertainment, commended Asa Salley for his many contributions to education and presented a donation of 500 books to the students.
Assisted by Maloof Sports and Entertainment Community Service Coordinator Shiloh London, Ostertag answered questions posed by the children and talked about the importance of education. His message was reinforced with a musical performance by Sacramento-based teen rapper Brandon "2 Krayze" Smith, whose "Stay in School" rap engaged all of the students and teachers. Students who correctly answered Sacramento Kings-related questions were awarded special prizes. Greg Ostertag presented an autographed basketball to Superintendent Gordon, Charlotte Chadwick, and Asa Salley.
Ostertag, a Texas native, shared with students his love of the outdoors and his strong family ties. His role model, he told the students, was his father, and his best friend is his son. He told the children that school helps them build friendships as well as knowledge. "School was really important to me, growing up," he said. "I have good memories of my time in school." He was cheered when he mentioned being a college graduate. Ostertag concluded his remarks by reminding the students that what they learn and do in school will help them in the days beyond school. "Listen to your teachers, like Mr. Salley," he said. "He's a good guy. He's there to help you figure things out and to get you on the road to success."