Nancy Young alum Payton Thorne gives the school $10,000

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Nancy Young Elementary School alum Payton Thorne has gifted the school $10,000 in recognition of Student Services Coordinator Dr. Robert Bell.

Dr. Bell is given credit for his work

The current Auburn Tigers quarterback worked with Cheez-It and the College Football Playoff Foundation to surprise his former instructor.

“I teamed up with Cheez-It to give back to the teachers that made an impact on our lives. We are gifting you [Dr. Bell] and Nancy Young Elementary $10,000 for all that you’ve done for me and the impact that you’ve had on my life,” said Thorne.

Doc Football influencing students

Dr. Bell was recognized for guiding students both inside and outside the school.

In 2001, he created Doc Football, a large continuing recess game in which he’s the quarterback for both teams. The program gives many students a reason to love school.

“The thing they’re really drawn to is this thing we do called Play of the Day. The best player on each team, or should I say the best play on each team received a little document reward or certificate of what they did. A 50-yard touchdown pass, an interception return for a pick-six, they love this stuff,” said Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell’s program also connects students with faculty and staff.

“The Doc Football program allows them to interact with adults, see us as people, see us as human beings, and then it allows us to cultivate those relationships,” said Erin Rodriguez, Principal at Nancy Young Elementary School.

Where will the money go?

Thorne’s gift will be used in part to buy jerseys for the program. 

Beyond that, it will provide the school with supplies like whiteboards, TVs, furniture, and recess equipment. It will also allow the purchase of an oven for the school’s RISE program, in which students with identified needs can learn life skills with their student mentors.

“The $10,000, it is beyond grateful and amazing. We are so happy that Payton Thorne really reflected and decided to celebrate Dr. Bell and this program and give back to Nancy Young where it all began,” said Rodriguez.

From Nancy Young to Auburn University

Thorne went on from Nancy Young to become a quarterback at Naperville Central High School, then continued his time on the gridiron first at Michigan State, and now Auburn. But he credits Dr. Bell for setting him off with a strong start.

“When you grow up and you’re able to look back on it, it’s pretty cool to see a guy willing to come out there and spend time with us young kids and it makes school fun. I learned a lot from that, now, later in life. You know, just being selfless and making others days, you made all our days,” said Thorne.

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