‘Buddies’ fosters reading

bledsoe buddies

Amanda Bledsoe

A. Bledsoe

Learning to read is something that most of us don’t remember, but for first-graders who are just starting to learn, it can be a difficult task. Luckily, at Kings there is a program that can help make this task a lot less stressful — and help both “teacher” and student alike.

This year marks the 5th-annual Kings “Reading Buddies” program, where high school students make a weekly trek to J.F. Burns Elementary to tutor and help children learn how to read.

High school science teacher Melanie Contratto has teamed up with her daughter, Jessica Contratto, who teaches 1st grade and came up with the idea for Reading Buddies. 

“Its nice to give these kids some individual time to learn,” Melanie Contratto said. “Their confidence in reading is boosted and they are able to form great relationships as well.”

Reading Buddies meets every Wednesday for 30 minutes. Each high school student is matched with a 1st-grader that they are most compatible with and have the most expertise in whatever area the child needs help.

“This program offers kids a positive, older role model who they know will continue to work with them regularly,” said KHS student Peyton Mills, a member of Reading Buddies. “I help a girl from India named Nakshatra … she is an inspiring young girl as she works hard every week no matter how rough it gets for her since this process is much harder for a foreign student.”

Not only does Reading Buddies help the younger children, it also teaches an important lesson to the high school students.

“Reading buddies helps to teach patience to students,” Contratto said. “It also reminds high schoolers what it’s like to be little again.”

Mills agreed.

“Each student is inspiring in their own ways. I can’t wait to see the progress we can help each student make this year.”

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