Deer Park football player uses school program to form bonds with special-needs students

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- A Deer Park student athlete is stepping up in a major way by using the school's life skills program to help students with special needs develop skills for everyday tasks.

When Deer Park High School senior and varsity football player Jonathan Groover isn't on the field, he's working with students with intellectual disabilities.

"These kids are amazing," said Groover.

During three class periods, Groover works with the students on everyday skills like sorting, setting up the school store and pattern development.

But what has really caught the attention of many educators is the special bonds and friendships he has formed with his fellow students.

"Watching him change over to where he actually interacts with the kids as friends has just been so special," said Deer Park special education teacher Cindi Patterson. "My students don't have friends. They just don't know how to make them. So, to have somebody genuinely want to interact with our kids is just rare, and Jonathan is rare."

The district says instead of receiving class credit for his work with the students, they've decided to hire Groover as an hourly employee.
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