By Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach
Isabella Costanza’s newest pal at Park Avenue Elementary School in Warwick NY is also among the youngest, a kindergartner named Sarah. The two are Reading Buddies, paired up once a week or so to read together and work on projects. As a third grader, Isabella is several years older than little Sarah Bailey, but being a young mentor to a kindergartner is, she says, one of the best part of her days.
“We get to read stories together or sometimes we do crafts,” says Isabella. “It makes me feel good to spend time with her.”
At Park Avenue, Reading Buddies matches a third-grader with a kindergarten student. Isabella is a standout because of her dedication, patience, and enthusiasm.
“She’s a terrific Reading Buddy ambassador,” said Park Avenue Principal Sandra Wood.
Typically the third grade class will visit its partner kindergarten class for planned activities, which may include reading together, playing an educational game or working on an assignment. The classroom teachers match up the Reading Buddies, taking their personality, work style, and interests into account.
Kindergartners enjoy the one-on-one attention from a “big kid,” and the interaction enhances their vocabulary and reading skills. Making pals with an older student also means there’s a familiar face among the tide of older, bigger students in the hallways, which is very reassuring to the school’s littlest pupils.
“I see her in the hall and we always wave to each other,” says Sarah.
For the third graders, being a Reading Buddy further develops their own literacy skills while building leadership and mentoring abilities. That and it’s fun.
“Dr. Seuss is Sarah’s favorite, so I read Dr. Seuss with her a lot,” says Isabella, adding that she reads longer chapter books now. “It’s good to feel like a kindergartner again.”
Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the “The Superintendent’s Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.