LYNN — Devin McCourty knows how to win in the face of adversity and he praised Tracy Elementary School students and staff Wednesday for taking pride in their old, overcrowded school and supporting one another.
“How the school operates is great. You see the kids love it,” said the New England Patriots defensive back.
McCourty, brother Jason and fellow Patriot Duron Harmon visited Tracy to continue their push highlighting insufficient funding for public schools. Devin McCourty testified in March at a state legislative hearing on proposals to boost school funding.
The Patriots players and counterparts from other teams formed the Players Coalition, an organization not affiliated with the National Football League, and dedicated to highlighting concerns about education, race and criminal justice.
“We can do the job of pushing to ensure every student in Massachusetts has the same opportunity,” Harmon said.
The state Legislature is taking action on school spending with the state Senate’s proposed budget boosting money for Lynn to $185.8 million, an $18 million increase.
“An increase in funding would allow us to bring in more staff. We’re woefully understaffed,” School Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler told the Patriots players.
State Sen. Brendan Crighton and state Reps. Dan Cahill, Peter Capano and Lori Ehrlich were on hand for the Tracy tour, along with House and Senate colleagues and city officials.
Dr. Pattye Griffin, Tracy’s principal, led the Pats through the school’s labyrinth of narrow hallways and the basement where kitchen workers prepare meals without relief from air conditioning.
“It gets like an oven,” Griffin said.
Tracy first grade teacher Kelly Corcoran said the players’ popularity can shine a light on school underfunding.
“It’s awesome to have their star power,” she said.
Posing for a photograph with the players left fifth-grader Gardenia Leon almost speechless. Her teacher, Christina Kotsakis, said the players’ visit meant a lot to students.
“It shows kids that if you work hard you can do anything,” she said.
Devin McCourty said his visit to Tracy allowed him to appreciate the opportunities he has enjoyed.
“You see the schools and see how much kids need and you ask, ‘How can I help?'” he said.