Green Eggs and Slam

Justus Berger is very passionate about promoting reading for children, and he has found a way to have fun and bring some entertainment to people’s lives in the process.
Berger, owner of The School of Reading, will be hosting a Live with Aerostar “Green Eggs and Slam” Lucha Libre Event on Feb. 3 at the Maddawg Center in Kernersville, located at 900 E. Mountain Street. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and is a fundraiser to purchase every first grader at Kernersville Elementary School a copy of the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham.” The event is free for people 17 years of age and younger, and the shows usually last for an hour to an hour and a half.
Berger, a first grade teacher in his fourth year at Kimberley Park Elementary School, started The School of Reading. He was able to combine his passion for promoting reading with his love of wrestling.
“I always wanted to be a promoter. As a 19-year old, I wanted to be a promoter. I just like to have a good time. I like events and I like the fact that I can create something that people look forward to. I have been doing wrestling promotions since 2017, but obviously I had to cancel some of them during Covid. It is not that hard to put the events together, and I have been doing it long enough,” Berger said.
Berger said his love of wrestling started with what many see as traditional pro wrestling, rather than Lucha Libre.
“As a kid I was a big fan of the Rock, but I always knew wrestling was staged. A lot of people didn’t know that back then. My uncle was super enthusiastic about wrestling. He was kind of my redneck uncle my parents tried to keep me away from. But my dad liked it too. He cheered for the heels as a kid back when Chief Wahoo McDaniel was around,” said Berger.
Berger said for the most part the Lucha Libre performers at his shows are between the ages of 18 and 40. The Feb. 3 event will feature Supa Lucha, Aerostar, the Fox and the Grizzly. Berger is expecting to add additional performers between now and the event. Some of the wrestlers Berger has worked with in the past have become very well known.
“I got Sammy Guevara for an event for $300 back at Old Town Elementary in 2018, and we had Brian Cage for one event in 2017. I just saw them and knew they were going to be very good, and they are both on television on All Elite Wrestling,” said Berger.
In 2017, Berger decided he wanted to promote Lucha Libre wrestling events. Lucha Libre translates as “freestyle wrestling” or “free fight” and it is the term used in Latin America for professional wrestling. It was introduced to Mexico in the early 20th century, and it has developed into a unique form of the genre. It is characterized by colorful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, and high-flying maneuvers, many of which have been adopted in the United States, Japan, and other nations. The masks have special significance, and matches are sometimes contested in which the loser must permanently remove his mask. Tag team wrestling is especially prevalent in Lucha Libre, particularly matches with three-member teams. Lucha Libre wrestlers are known as luchadores.
Berger is also hosting Lucha Libre events on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 at the Cooks Flea Market, located at 4250 North Patterson Ave. in Winston-Salem. Both events will begin at 1:30 p.m.
“Last year in Kernersville, we canceled an event because we thought too many kids were getting Covid. We wanted to do events outdoors at the flea market. Now they have an indoor area, and that is our home venue for events. Every month we will have an event there,” Berger said.
Back in August, Berger explained that when students read just 20 minutes a day, they learn 10,000 new words a year and are in the 90th percentile of testing.
“That’s the biggest thing that I have seen – test scores,” said Berger. “I had a couple of kids go up a whole grade level and I attribute that to getting kids excited about reading.”
An unfortunate consequence of very low reading levels for young adults is often not pretty, according to Berger.
“I think reading is essential. Having a third grade reading level…that is how prisons are built. It is just that simple. In Winston-Salem and in Forsyth County, you have kids that are not able to read. As a teacher, I think it is because we don’t push the love of reading enough. I certainly do though. You want to get the parents involved and have them promote a love of reading,” said Berger.
As some have said, “If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life,” and that appears to be what Berger is doing. Berger also has bigger long-term goals for The School of Reading.
Berger stated he wants to start his own small private school that would be free to low-income students, provided by fundraising, grants and private donations. He said the school would be for five first grade students, ideally, and feature a new set of students each year.

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