Bruns Academy has taken a school-wide approach to literacy. Older and younger students have begun pairing up as reading buddies.
Earlier in the school year, the school’s administrators engaged grade-level chairs in a conversation about ways that they could build school culture across all grade levels at the pre-K-8 school, said Assistant Principal Jessica Jugan.
“Within days, Ms. [Erin] Lindsay came to me with this idea,” she added.
Jugan and Lindsay created a schedule that incorporates all grade levels. In the weeks leading up to the winter break, upper-school teachers paired with lower-school teachers and worked out a schedule that included every preschool through eighth-grade classroom.
Each week older scholars work with younger students on reading and writing skills during 30-minute reading blocks.
“This is a teacher-led and student-requested initiative,” said Principal Jordy Sparks. “It’s evidence that although the common concern has been ‘What is being done to keep the older and younger students separate?’ in a pre-K-8 setting, the opportunities of collaboration and mentoring possibilities far outweigh any of the concerns.”
Fourth-grade teacher Katie Pratt said she sees the reading buddies as a character and self-assurance builder.
“It allows for the students to take on a leadership role and be confident in their learning and teaching others,” she said. “It is a great way to build confidence among grade levels.”
Principal Sparks said the reading buddies program is just one of the many ways the school has and will continue to capitalize on having such a range of ages and experience in the building.
“We believe this will be a great way to continue building a positive pre-K-8 school community and increase student achievement in literacy,” she said. “It is exciting to walk into a classroom and see our upper- and lower-school scholars working together towards a common goal. You can literally feel them learning!”