Javis Austin gives back to his community


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From The State:

Each school-day morning, Austin is picked up at his apartment by Kendall Shirley and driven to Clemson Elementary School, where the two work, Austin as a teacher’s aide for special education classes. They arrive early in order to meet and greet their students as they arrive by bus.

Previously, Austin worked five years with special ed youngsters at R.C. Edwards Middle School, before being transferred to the elementary school due to budget cutbacks a year ago. It took him away from the campus where he also works as an assistant football coach, but Dr. Ken Weichel, Clemson Elementary’s principal, says the move was a godsend.

“Our good luck,” said Weichel, 56 and a defensive tackle at Clemson from 1973-77. “He does anything and everything, and the kids love him. He sets a wonderful example, and he’s not bashful about telling them his experiences, and how lucky they are to be here.”

“Lucky”? Austin’s students are severely handicapped youngsters, “kids in diapers, in wheelchairs, (and) Javis changes diapers, pushes chairs,” Weichel said. “Some of them can’t speak. It’s hard, but Javis is in there slinging, doing it all with a smile on his face.”

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