Little Knights
Reading Buddies: Teaching To Learn

Reading Buddies-Berman

Helaine Berman

H. Berman

Learning to read is an important skill that students acquire in elementary school and use throughout their whole life.

Kings Schools have a program to help elementary students learn to read, while allowing older students the opportunity to teach. It’s called “Reading Buddies.”

Reading Buddies is a program for students from Kings High School to go to J.F. Burns Elementary every Wednesday for 30 minutes to listen to some of the first graders read.

Kings High School science teacher, Melanie Contratto, has sponsored Reading Buddies for three years. Her daughter, Jessica Contratto, teaches first grade at J.F. Burns and originally came up with the idea when high school students read to her students in class.

“Jessica’s sorority did a similar program when she was in college, and she wanted to do the same thing when she started teaching.” She said.

Melanie Contratto thinks that Reading Buddies is very beneficial to the elementary school students.

“The individual attention is very helpful.” She said. “And the elementary students often want to do well for their reading buddy.

Right now the students just read to their reading buddy, but as the year goes on they’ll practice their sight words and different skills.

Contratto also thinks that the program benefits the high school students by giving them an idea of what their college major should be.

“Some of the students are still not certain what they’re going into, and this program could help them decide.” She said. “It’s also a great opportunity for students considering majoring in education.” She said.

Kings High School junior, Jenna Maschino (pictured above), is part of reading buddies and loves working with the first grade students.

“I meet with a kid every Wednesday, and he picks out a story to read to me, and I help him with words he doesn’t know.” she said

Maschino also likes when she can see her reading buddy move on to harder books and get better at reading.

“Reading Buddies helps kids get extra reading practice, and it’s fun to see their progress as the weeks go on.” she said

Maschino also thinks that reading buddies is a great volunteer opportunity, and a great way to interact with younger students.

“I love working with the little kid,” she said. “It’s a really fun way to get community service hours, and it helps build community in the district.”

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