Student Literacy Wins Thanks to KCPS Partnership with Derrick Johnson, IBT and Scholastic


Less than 48 hours after winning an overtime thriller in Denver, Chiefs Linebacker Derrick Johnson presented his new Discovery Den to a group of awe-struck first and third graders at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

In partnership with Scholastic and IBT Industrial Solutions, Johnson’s Discovery Den provides students with a newly-constructed reading area stocked with more than 1,200 new books. Designed for all readings levels, students in the Discovery Den can find books ranging from Harry Potter to Dr. Seuss.

dj2Johnson’s foundation, Defend the Dream, has already created six Discovery Dens throughout Kansas City Public Schools. During his visit at King Elementary, Johnson expressed his passion for helping area youth and made sure students understood the importance of working hard and staying focused.

“You have to work hard in the classroom.” You’re not always going to get 100 percent, but you can always work hard and do your best,” Johnson said.

Director of Elementary Education Dr. Anthony Lewis believes such contributions are invaluable for KCPS students.

“If you ask any of our elementary students what they want to be when they grow up, more often than not their answers will be, ‘A professional athlete.’  When students are able to see and touch a ‘real-life’ professional athlete and hear him connect what he does to reading, it is a win-win for our students,” Dr. Lewis said.

Johnson concluded his visit by reading aloud to the students and presenting Principal Jermaine Wilson with a dedication plaque. Afterward, Dr. Wilson conveyed his gratitude and explained the importance of having creative spaces for students to improve their literacy.

“It creates a space for Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary students to fall in love with books, strengthen their reading skills and build their vocabulary,” Wilson said. “I want to extend sincere thanks to Scholastic, IBT and Derrick Johnson for their commitment to building strong readers in this community and changing lives.”