BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A former Buffalo may be on the opposing team, but his love remains for some Queen City school students. Bengals linebacker Preston Brown has kept his promise to support students at McKinley High School's Urban Teacher Academy.
The football player has a special outing planned for this Sunday. He will has invited them to the home opener this weekend.
“Well it's going to be amazing, especially this being my first time going to a game,” said Rakim Scales, junior at McKinley.
Scales is one of 20-students who first enrolled the city school's Urban Teacher Academy when it opened in 2017 in partnership with Buffalo State.
It's a 'grow our own' concept to generate local, future teachers of color for buffalo schools.
The program caught the attention of Brown when he was with the Bills. In late 2017 he adopted the first UTA class and surprised them with iPads.
Three months later brown signed with the Bengal’s, but has remained committed to the first class of students to make sure they graduate next year.
“Because we all know sometimes, we need a little extra push to keep going in what we want. Hopefully I can be that for those kids just finding a way to give them that extra energy that extra oomph, that I’m here supporting you guys and I believe that you can do it,” Brown told 7 Eyewitness News in a Friday phone interview.
“He comes from our background and he made it out – and he believes that we can do the same - just that if he gives it that little push,” said Gabrielle Baldwin, McKinley junior.
“Especially seeing someone of his status – to really take notice of student education and support it,” Scales said.
Baldwin and Scales say they're both eager to become future city teachers.
“I just want to make an influence on the community around me. It’s just – leaving my mark on somebody – it just touches my heart,” Baldwin noted.
“I want to be able to one day teach our next generation of students,” Scales replied.
Brown says he has a lot of teachers in his family.
“My father’s an educator and that’s what I went to school for,” Brown said.
Students are required to take four college-level course at the UTA and successfully complete 12 credit hours to be accepted into Buffalo State, where they would receive a full scholarship. This school year there are 55 students now enrolled in the UTA. This year's freshman class featured 19-new students.
“The promise and commitment is they’re going to come back to buffalo public schools and actually teach the young people in their community,” noted Marck Abraham, McKinley principal.
20-students will be at Sunday’s bills game, but wearing special Preston Brown t-shirts. The biggest dilemma - who to root for? The hometown team or a friend to education?
“We are Bills fans – we don’t want to get the Bills upset, but we are rooting that Preston Brown has a phenomenal game and we will be wearing these Preston Brown shirts at the game,” Abrahams stated.
“It's going to be kind of difficult because now we got our home team - facing Preston brown, so now it's like who do we choose,” remarked Scales.
Brown responded with laughter.
“Hopefully I’m trying to pull on their heart strings a little bit, so hopefully we can get then to root for us by the end of the game,” responded Brown,.
One thing everyone can agree upon – Preston Brown and McKinley High School are a winning combination.