CHICAGO -- Ernie Banks knows a lot about hitting balls out of the park, snaring hard liners and entertaining crowds at Wrigley Field. He also knows a great deal about education, his passion in life after baseball.
Mr. Cub spoke to a group of children at Cameron Elementary School in Chicago on Wednesday about the importance of education during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the rededication of the school's library. The event was sponsored by Target, which, along with Major League Baseball and PEOPLE, is celebrating teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities through the "Target Presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers" campaign.
Through Tuesday, fans can nominate an outstanding teacher at AllStarTeachers.com to give nominees a chance to represent their favorite team. The winning teachers will be honored at the 2014 MLB All-Star Game on July 15 in Minneapolis on FOX.
"My life here is just learning from you all the things that you have learned in your life," Banks told the crowd. "I'm happy to be here, happy to see all of you. The library is fantastic. And there is so much knowledge in this library for all of us to learn and be a part of, and we should try to do that. I learned a lot of things from Jackie Robinson, from Satchel Paige, a lot of things playing in the Negro Leagues, and it really has helped me a lot."
Banks, along with Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and representatives from Target, cut the ceremonial ribbon for the library. The library was given a technology facelift -- including new iPads for students -- and given more books, among other upgrades.
Banks went back to school following his retirement from baseball, attending Northwestern University and The University of Chicago, among other schools. His goal is to help the children at Cameron and schools across the country become well-educated in math, science and engineering. At Cameron, for example, he wants to start a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) program.
"That's what I want to start -- to help everybody, all young people who are good in math," Banks said. "So I want learn about that and I want to get them trained to go to MIT to become nuclear physicists and help save this world."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com.