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Tennis legend Andre Agassi spent his 21-year career schooling opponents on the court.

07 January, 2016
Tennis legend Andre Agassi spent his 21-year career schooling opponents on the court.

n that span, he and his unstoppable backhand shot took home 60 titles — eight of them Grand Slams. It’s no wonder he’s considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport

In 1994, he created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

Since its beginning, the group — which began as the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation — has raised more than $180 million to put toward educational endeavors, opening the Las Vegas-based charter school Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in 2001. In an interview with People magazine, Agassi explains that his passion for education came from his own lack of one. When he was 13, he was pulled from regular school and sent to a tennis academy. While he found massive success on the court, he couldn’t help but wonder what his life would have been like had he not. “I didn’t have a choice in my life,” he told People. “I just focused on tennis. And the thought of what would have happened had I not succeeded was kind of overwhelming.”

Understanding the basics of language at an early age is key in preparing students for long-term success.

Educators around the world agree: Early years in a child’s development are crucial to eventual mastering of language skills. At a young age, children’s brains are more sponge-like than ever, making it so important to make the most of the brain’s unique ability to develop new skills during this time. What we’re seeing is that a startling number of kids across the country can’t read at grade level. And that’s why the Agassi Foundation’s latest endeavor has them looking to a unique solution to this all-too-common problem by making the most of early brain development.

Agassi teamed up with Square Panda, a startup that makes innovative, multi-sensory tablet workstations for students.

Square Panda was founded by Las Vegas entrepreneur Tom Boeckle, who points to his own childhood dyslexia as his passion fuel, inspiring his goal of creating something to save other children from the same embarrassment and frustration he experienced as a child. The company’s core product is the Panda Playset, and Agassi says he believes it will revolutionize how kids learn to read, telling USA Today, “This is a perfect way to lead a kid into those early years of development that gives them a chance at a much better education.”

he Playset is what’s called an “adaptive system,” meaning that it tailors itself to the child.

It grows with the child, helping them learn how to differentiate letters and learn the mechanics of creating words through a multi-sensory experience. It’s really cool. As various studies have illustrated the benefits of multi-sensory learning — especially during early brain development and especially when it comes to language skills — it seems like there’s quite a bit of science to back the Playset’s core premise.

Will this partnership be the education-redefining innovation Agassi hopes? We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, it’s great to see that there are people seeking out new ways to teach the pillars of education.

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