make it better

Nov 02

McMillan Honors McKay For Making Hay

By make it better Posted in: makeitbetter
One of Nate McMillan's strengths as a coach is his ability to motivate. That motivation could come in the form of an inspiring pre-game speech, an animated discussion during a timeout or a one-on-one post-game meeting. One way or another, Coach McMillan is going to figure out a way to get his players focused and ready to compete.

So McMillan knows firsthand the difficulties of inspiring greatness on a day-to-day basis, which is one of the reasons why he, along with Blaze the Trail Cat, visited McKay High School in Salem on October 28 to show their admiration for the strides the students and staff have made in improving their standardized test scores.

"I swear to you, I think about (teachers) a lot and the challenges you face," said McMillan in an address to McKay" teachers. "I have 15 guys that I have to try and motivate, get them on the same page as far as getting them to go out and perform. And you have probably over 100 students a day that you're working with. We are aware of what is going on with our schools and the reason why I'm here talking to you."

Last year, McKay" test scores in reading and writing were some of the lowest in the state, and for legitimate reasons. Many of their students come from low-income families, as indicated by 82 percent of McKay" student body qualifying for free or reduced lunch programs. Gangs, and the violence associated with them, provide another hurdle. And a number of students have parents or family members incarcerated at the state penitentiary just a few miles down the road from McKay" campus.

So the students, teachers and staff at McKay had every excuse to quit on themselves and their school. But instead of giving up, they rededicated themselves to improvement. And one year later, McKay" scores in reading improved by the more of any school in the state while posting the third greatest improvement in math scores.

That" why McMillan, with Blaze in tow, attended a pep rally at the school to show that the Trail Blazers appreciate and support the strides McKay" students and staff have made, even as budgets for education continue to be stretched thinly.

"It is important for (McKay High School) to understand that people are watching them and we do recognize what they have done in their community," said McMillan. "One of our missions at the Blazers is to make it better, and this is what these students are doing here at McKay High School. They are trying to make it better. They've shown that they can do that the last year with improvement with their test scores and we're down here today to encourage them to continue to work hard, continue to commit, stay focused and work together, because it doesn't work unless the student body and teachers are working together."

After the rally, which featured Blaze joining a performance of the "Thriller" dancer from the Michael Jackson video bearing the same name, McMillan met with McKay" teachers to express his appreciation for all of their hard work and to implore them to keep striving for better results.

"I know it's an unbelievable challenge, what you are facing these days with trying to get kids to continue to attend school," said McMillan. "I know it's an unbelievable challenge, but we've got to do it. We need you. You can't give up on the kids."

Click here for photos of Nate McMillan's trip to McKay


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