TROY — Cookson Elementary kindergartner Shalayah Miller’s eyes lit up as Troy High School senior Trevor Griffieth walked into the classroom for their weekly Reading Buddy program.
Griffieth is one of more than a dozen high school Reading Buddies who volunteers at the elementary school to read to Brooklyne Grissom’s kindergarten class each week.
Troy High School senior Jessie Welker started the program her junior year and hopes to pass the Reading Buddy program along after she graduates this month. Each student volunteers to read to their designated student for an hour once a week.
“I came to (Cookson Elementary Principal Stephanie Johnson) in the summer before my junior year with the idea. I also met with Mrs. (Myra) Sanders who has the Concord Reading Buddies to get some ideas and ask her how she runs things. (Mrs. Sanders) was all for the idea and wanted to expand it to other schools,” Welker said.
“Jessie came to me with the idea. Concord has it and she wanted to do it here and I said “Bring it!” and she did,” said Cookson Elementary School Principal Stephanie Johnson.
The Cookson Reading Buddy program has been part of Grissom’s class for two years. Last year, Grissom’s first grade class hosted the Reading Buddies and her kindergarten class adopted the program again this year.
Grissom said the program is a classroom success because each student has the opportunity to read with a mentor and get one-on-one attention that they may not have at home.
“The kids look forward to working with the older kids — they are role models to them. They get so excited. They love that one-on-one time. I feel like it has really helped with their reading growth this year,” Grissom said. “It’s just that consistency of having that older role model come work with them every week.”
Johnson said the elementary will continue the program with the high school students next year.
“It’s been awesome,” Johnson said.
Last Thursday, Miller picked out two books and a sight word game for her and Griffieth to play outside in the hallway.
“I like that they come and read me books,” Miller said. “I read to him and he reads back to me.”
Welker and her reading buddy Wyatt Lockhart read “Green Eggs and Ham” together in the hallway.
“It’s good because we are learning stuff with them,” Lockhart said. “I think I’d eat green eggs and ham. I like that kind of stuff, especially Reese’s cups.”
Welker said she recruited friends and fellow students to adopt a reading buddy at the Cookson Elementary school where her brother is in the third grade. Welker said she put the volunteer opportunity on the high school announcements and spread the idea by word of mouth.
“I heard some of my friends say they share a reading buddy (at Concord Elementary), so I thought why not get some more kids involved instead of having one kid with two buddies,” Welker said.
Welker plans to attend The Ohio State University with an undecided major. Griffieth plans to attend Purdue University and study bio-medical engineering. Both shared how they enjoyed spending time with the younger students in the Troy City School system.
“It’s fun and they look forward to us coming each week,” Griffieth said.
The following Troy High School junior and senior students also volunteered to be a Cookson Elementary Reading Buddy for the 2018-2019 school year: Baylee Boltin, Emily Burleson, Erika Innes, Gabbi Johnson, Abbi Kidder, Anna McElwee, Brandi McFadden, Leonardo Medel, Mackenzie Morgan, Madison Reed, Payton Ross, Hannah Setser, and Leah Winters.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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