Press Release and Photo Attachment
From: St. Joseph School Fullerton
Contact: Paula Beres, 410-256-8026
The Buddy System
When a preschool student at St. Joseph School in Perry Hall wants to find someone to look up to, they don’t have to look very high. One would expect the older middle school students, who already serve leadership roles as school safeties, student government officers, altar servers, and classroom helpers, to step in and help the preschool students. Once a week at St. Joseph’s, (grades pre-k thru 8) however, it is the school’s second graders that arrive at the preschool classroom door, ready to help.
"Most would not think these young second graders could be such a help to my even younger preschoolers,", says Brenda Albright, preschool teacher. "yet, my preschoolers know each Thursday, when show and tell time is over, they will get a visit from their second grade buddies. I see their eyes start to wander towards the door, and their faces light up when they spot their buddy. This tells me we are doing the right thing for my students. They're bonding”.
Mrs. Albright chooses the activity during “buddy time”. It could be reading a book, rhyming words, or working on a craft project, all under the supervision of both the preschool and second grade teaching staff.
Preschool can be a difficult adjustment for some children. Preschoolers need to learn a new routine and for many, this is the first time away from their parents for any period of time. Two adult Instructional Assistants in the classroom help the children ease into and become comfortable with the routine. They help the children with projects, sit next to the student who is having a rough day, and support the teacher in reading and math lessons. "This buddy system with the second grade is one more way to help my preschoolers feel comfortable at our school and with the school experience,” says Mrs. Albright. She tells the story of one child, who had a difficult time adjusting to preschool, yet now sits and shares conversation and stories with his buddy. Another particularly active girl in pre-k learned to calm down and enjoy the one on one time with her buddy. "We now look over and see her sitting with her buddy, listening intently to the story being read. It’s…wonderful".
We know preschoolers benefit from this arrangement. But what about the second graders? Second grade teacher, Jessica Smythe, says, “Our second grade students have, for years, brought in items such as canned goods and clothing for people in need. We tell them their contribution makes a difference in someone’s life, but this program is a chance for them to actually see the difference they are making." Kathy James, another second grade teacher, says, “This time together helps build my students’ self confidence, not to mention the improvement in their oral reading skills just from sitting down and reading a book to their buddies.”
And how do those big, tall, old second graders feel about their “buddy time?” One second grader, Brendan Brooks, says, "Reading to my buddy is fun. I like to take care of someone younger than me". Brendan, the youngest of five children in his family, isn't used to being "the older, more responsible one", and is thrilled to have his time to shine. Another second grader, Jillian Seay, still remembers her buddy when she herself was in per-kindergarten. "His name was Erik Sagisi, and he used to read to me, and now I see him in the hallway and we wave to each other". Now Jillian reads to a little girl named Penelope, and she says, “I hope we can be friends like that”.
The dictionary definition of "buddy" is "partner”. The children in this “buddy program” at St. Joseph’s are more than partners, however. These students form a relationship with each other, learn valuable life lessons together, and share important, quality time. Perhaps second grader, Jillian, said it best. A better word may be “friend”.