American Idol judge Luke Bryan surprised an elementary school coach whose job is in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic. The "One Margarita" singer told Matthew Bailey his Playworks organization would receive a $65,000 donation during a live interview on Good Morning America Friday. Bailey is a coach at Manzanita Community Elementary School in Oakland, California.
Bryan told Bailey he remembered hearing about him during a GMA segment last year and thanked him for all the work he does teaching children. "Thank you so much for all your contributions to these kids, it’s so important," Bryan said. "I had teachers and coaches that still have lasting advice and life lessons burned into my brain. Watching everything you’ve overcome and still have the attitude to continue to get up and continue to give, to give back 10-fold, [it’s] very inspiring."
Playworks is a non-profit organization that helps schools and youth programs design recess and play environments. The organization's funding has taken a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but Bailey did not want the situation to stop him from inspiring children. He began hosting virtual training for students at Manzanita, the same school he attended. To help keep Bailey on staff at Playworks, his colleagues created a GoFundMe account, which raised about $5,000. Bryan told Bailey on Friday that Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation is donating $65,000 to the fund, which will also support sports equipment for the high school.
"I am so blessed. I can’t thank you enough," Bailey, 24, told Bryan. "I really appreciate you all." Bailey said he wanted to keep coaching students to provide them with an "African-American role model or someone to look up to in the community" and "Someone that grew up just down the street and they can turn to if they need anything."
Bailey also taught students conflict resolution skills and meditation practices. His students "all love him, ‘cause he’s so fun and funny," student Guadalupe Bahena told GMA. "He always makes the game more exciting," student Londyn Lovette added. "He taught me how to play football." Another student, Alfaisaley Ali, said Bailey taught them to "get back up" after losing.
Playworks went virtual during the pandemic to keep its mission alive. The organization's president, Elizabeth Cushing, told GMA they are trying to give kids a "sense of normalcy" and another reason to connect with their school. "...If they’re virtual, if they know they’re going to get to play, they’ll want to show up, and they’ll believe that they are still a part of that school community," she said.