It was a touchdown for learning at West Elementary on Thurs., Feb. 9 when Alisha Fenton’s fourth-grade class spoke with Aeneas Williams, Pro Football Hall of Famer and retired NFL player.
Fenton’s class was one of seven classes who got to ask Williams a question during the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s latest installment in their Heart of a Hall of Famer series. These free events bring classrooms across the nation together with legendary Hall of Famers “to learn first-hand what it took beyond athletic ability…to achieve success on and off the football field,” according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website. In particular, the program focuses on teaching students the Hall of Fame Values: Commitment, Integrity, Courage, Respect and Honesty.
While any school is welcome to register and watch via livestream, only a certain number of schools are allowed to ask questions over Zoom during the discussion portion of the event. Fenton’s class asked Williams, “What fears did you have to face in your career?”
"We are thrilled to be one of seven schools nationwide to be selected to interview Aeneas Williams,” Fenton said. “As a part of our new ELA curriculum, students spent a lot of time researching greathearted people, so it was wonderful to see the real-life connections that my students made when they were researching Mr. Williams' life.”
Williams shared with Fenton’s students that he had to learn how to have confidence in himself, since he walked on as a football player at Southern University during his junior year. Being around more experienced players made him doubt his own abilities.
Williams encouraged students that by overcoming fear themselves, they could encourage other people around them to overcome fear, too.
“My class operates under the idea that learning should be fun, so I'm very thankful for Superintendent Kevin Miller for advertising this to us and for the Heart of a Hall of Famer program for having us,” Fenton said.
Other schools asked Williams questions about the importance of teammates, how to be a strong leader, the value of resilience, what schools are best for preparing NFL players and fellow NFL stars he most enjoyed playing alongside. Fenton and her class were especially excited when Williams said he liked their question and thought it was very good.