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Tobias Harris 'blessing families and shedding a light on good things' at North Philly school

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Tobias Harris 'blessing families and shedding a light on good things' at North Philly school

On Monday morning at 9:30, after playing five games in seven nights, and driving back late Sunday night after a rough loss in Brooklyn, Tobias Harris arrived timely and smiling at Bethune Elementary School in North Philadelphia.

His first stop was Room 101, where he was there to show his personal appreciation for 15 male educators.

“As you all know there is a huge shortage of black male teachers around the country, so first and foremost I want to applaud all of you guys for being able to be here and giving back to the kids, especially when most of them look up to you as father figures, and someone as influence in their life,” Harris said standing in the small room, and personally thanking each teacher.

“The numbers don't lie that show that a young black male that has an African American teacher is 40 percent less likely to drop out come high school,” Harris said after gifting each teacher a $100 gift card for school supplies, as well as tickets to a game. “I truly believe if you invest in the education, in the schools, you invest in the community, we'll see more young leaders come up and children come up with an education base and be able to fulfill their dreams in whatever they want to do.”

It’s a cause close to Harris’ heart, as he recently donated $100,000 to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, which will supports early literacy efforts and teacher retention and recruitment. 

“I just wanted to be here to let them know that they are appreciated,” Harris said, who also launched his Top Teachers Initiative in October. “A teacher is somebody that in my eyes is a role model, is a hero for a lot of these kids.”

Harris then made his way to the school’s small library, where he had 15 kindergarteners waiting for him.

A quote from Tobias Harris was also hanging on the wall.

“Education is the anchor that opens up the door to success.”

Donning the red and white top hat from Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, Harris sat back in a rocking chair, and introduced himself to the kids.

“My name is Tobias Harris. Are you ready? Today I am going to be reading Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes!”

In between reading the children’s book about a cat whose white shoes get mucked up by various substances — like blueberries and strawberries and singing songs about Pete’s shoes changing colors (“I love my red shoes,” “I love my blue shoes!”). Harris easily captivated each kid’s attention.

The smiles in the room were big enough to make your cheeks hurt.

After that, Harris visited with a group of older students where they laughed and talked about what they wanted for Christmas, before Harris surprised them all with tickets to Philadelphia's Christmas Day game.

Following that, Harris made his way to the principal’s office, taking over for Principal Aliya Catanch-Bradley.

A nervous and excited Principal Harris spoke over the loud speaker to all the students and teachers at school, surprising every teacher with gift cards to purchase more school supplies for their classrooms.

This could be getting me ready for life after basketball,” Harris, who aspires to pursue a career in education after basketball, said. “It's a cool feeling, being here in this type of environment, being in an area that’s impacting kids is something I definitely want to do when I'm done.

Although that was all that was officially on the docket for the morning, Harris’ day didn’t end there. A teacher had popped in earlier to introduce himself and ask Harris if he would stop by his classroom.

So, Harris then popped into Room 212, sat in a seat and started doing math problems with the kids, and answering the teacher’s questions.

And then, he popped into another class, where they were discussing the history of African-American heritage. The class also gifted him the book they were reading, “Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library.”

“What I want (Harris’ visit) to translate into, is that our children matter, and that they just don't matter to those of us inside the building, but they matter to a broader community,” Principal Aliyah said, after explaining that Bethune is a Trauma Informed elementary school.

We are in the 25th police precinct, and here we have a significant number of homicides for the city, concentrated in this area, so many of my scholars come to school with gun violence, loss of siblings and family members that have a high incarceration rate here, and we are also in an area where there is deep poverty. … Usually when you see this area on the news, it's a homicide or something bad, so today, we get to have one of the 76ers come, and really bring with him such great joy, that's not associated with tragedy and travesty happening. It's like, I took time out of my day to see and spend some time with this school, because you matter.

Bethune Elementary, focused on removing barriers for these young kids, has also been chosen as one of the schools for Tobias’ Lit Labs Initiative, which provides literacy resources for students and teachers.

“Today we removed a barrier for some of what might have been hopelessness for the holidays,” Principal Aliyah said. “Tobias is blessing families and shedding a light on good things that are happening in this part of the city.”

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2019-20 NBA power rankings: Taking stock heading into the second half of the regular season

2019-20 NBA power rankings: Taking stock heading into the second half of the regular season

With the trade deadline a little over two weeks away, every team in the NBA has played at least 41 games.

Let’s take stock as the second half of the regular season begins: 

The top 10

It took the second triple-double of Markelle Fultz’s career Wednesday to snap the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak. 

Jimmy Butler has gotten to the free throw line in every game he’s played besides one this season and is third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game (9.3).

Mike Conley returned from a hamstring injury Saturday for Utah, and the Jazz have 16 of 18.

The Rockets have lost three straight and the Mavs have won four straight, but Dallas has a difficult upcoming schedule with the Clippers and Jazz on tap this week. 

Ben Simmons has been stellar in just about every way besides fourth-quarter scoring for the Sixers in Joel Embiid’s absence and is averaging 21.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists over his last four games. 

Though Marcus Smart set a franchise record with 11 threes and scored a career-high 37 points in Saturday’s defeat to the Suns, Boston has lost three in a row. 

1. Milwaukee Bucks (38-6) 
2. Los Angeles Lakers (34-8)
3. Los Angeles Clippers (30-13)
4. Denver Nuggets (29-13) 
5. Miami Heat (29-13) 
6. Utah Jazz (29-13) 
7. Dallas Mavericks (27-15) 
8. Houston Rockets (26-15)
9. Sixers (28-16) 
10. Boston Celtics (27-14)

The middle 10

The Raptors shot over 50 percent from the floor in every game this week and could easily be higher in our rankings — it’s tightly bunched in the six through 12 range. 

Memphis has seven straight wins. Ja Morant is mesmerizing, and both he and Jaren Jackson Jr. are shooting over 40 percent on threes. 

Kyrie Irving talked Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center about the Nets requiring “one or two more pieces,” then reached out to teammates to clarify his comments.

Zion Williamson is expected to debut Wednesday vs. the Spurs, exciting news if you enjoy basketball. 

After their trade with the Kings, Portland got 34 points from Damian Lillard and a career-high 30 from flu-stricken Gary Trent Jr., and they still lost by 13 to Oklahoma City.

11. Toronto Raptors (28-14)
12. Indiana Pacers (28-15) 
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-19) 
14. Memphis Grizzlies (20-22)
15. Brooklyn Nets (18-23) 
16. San Antonio Spurs (18-23) 
17. Orlando Magic (20-23)
18. Phoenix Suns (18-24) 
19. New Orleans Pelicans (16-27) 
20. Portland Trail Blazers (18-26)

The bottom 10 

The Bulls’ last win over a team currently in playoff position was on Dec. 14, but Zach LaVine is putting up big numbers, including 42 points Saturday vs. Cleveland, and trying to push for a home All-Star appearance

Sekou Doumbouya, the league’s youngest player, scored 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting Wednesday night at TD Garden. 

It appears that a clear bottom four has separated from the pack. Stephen Curry is targeting a March 1 return, according to The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson. 

21. Chicago Bulls (16-28)
22. Sacramento Kings (15-27) 
23. Detroit Pistons (16-27)
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-27) 
25. Charlotte Hornets (15-29)
26. Washington Wizards (13-28)
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-31)
28. New York Knicks (11-32)
29. Golden State Warriors (10-34)
30. Atlanta Hawks (10-33) 



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Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

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Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

On the latest Sixers Talk podcast presented by Wilmington University, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Ben Simmons' recent play since Joel Embiid went out with an injury, how alarming the Al Horford situation is becoming, and a possible reunion with Robert Covington.

• No, Simmons hasn't scored late in games, but he's been attacking the rim and causing opponents to make plenty of business decisions.

• How worried should we be about Horford's up-and-down season?

• Would a RoCo reunion make sense? What would you give up?

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