Flat Bucky: How Badgers’ Sam Dekker is using Instagram to mentor Sheboygan third-graders

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SHEBOYGAN (WITI) -- Inspiration comes from so many different places. For some Sheboygan third-graders, it's coming from a very special piece of paper.

For third-graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Sheboygan, the lessons are getting a little more diverse -- something teacher Valerie Kaiser believes is extremely important at this age.

"This is when they start focusing on more reading comprehension, just a little bit harder curriculum and they are ready to see what the future holds for them," Kaiser said.

Third-grader Treyvon Brendel says he wants to be an engineer.

"I like being challenged. I want to kind of change the world," Brendel said.

These kids are part of the "Flat Bucky" program with athletes from the University of Wisconsin.

"Flat Bucky's a program where we have sent a Flat Bucky, a flat piece of paper, to Sam (Dekker), and he is to take Flat Bucky along with him when he travels on trips, when he goes to class, when he goes anywhere in Madison and report back to us via Instagram as to where he's going," Kaiser said.

"To be able to have them kind of connected with me and the things that I do is kind of cool, and kind of neat for them too," Dekker said.

Dekker, a Wisconsin Badgers basketball player is their mentor. He interacts with the kids through Instagram.

"I'm sure that they have fun seeing what I'm doing and seeing what Bucky's doing around the campus and going to different places. "I think Bucky will be at some places that you don't really expect and I think the kids will get a kick out of that," Dekker said.

"I'm hoping to see him on an airplane. Why? I think it would be cool to see him in a passenger seat just chilling out," Brendel said.

Sam Dekker's journey this season includes all the third-graders like Preston Dos Santos and Nelson Lor. Lor says it's been fun learning more about Sam.

"Sam scored the winning basket in the high school state championship game. Last year Sam scored five points or fewer just twice in 38 games," Lor said.

"We are pulling in all kinds of areas of the curriculum -- math, geography, reading, writing letters and all kinds of things," Kaiser said.

"We have found some points and scores and wrote them in math problems," third-grader Rachel Parker said.

These lessons go beyond the curriculum and the court.

"It's kind of inspired me -- like how much they learn and what they all get to do," Brendel said.

"They are able to see that college is fun. College is work. It's something that they should all strive for," Kaiser said.

"It's kind of giving me ideas of what I can do to change the world," Brendel said.

The Flat Bucky program is involving a number of different student-athletes at the University of Wisconsin and other schools across the state.