Reading Program Pairs Cherokee HS, Canton ES
High school students tutor and mentor younger children.
The program is called "Book Buddies". Every Friday, Cherokee High students walk next door to Canton Elementary to read to 16 classes.
Cherokee teachers Brittany Walker and Elizabeth Spell supply all of the student readers. Walker teaches freshman literature and composition as well as British literature; Spell, freshman social studies.
Spell’s classes created Thanksgiving books to read for the elementary students. Many of them personalized the characters in the book for their specific buddy.
“My high school students loved being part of an elementary schooler's day," said Spell, who is also the assistant girls’ varsity basketball coach at Cherokee. "All of the Canton students were so excited on Fridays to see their book buddy come in the room and the high schoolers felt like they were needed and wanted when they visited the classroom."
Heather Eastridge, a third-grade teacher at Canton Elementary, said her students look up to their book buddies and have developed friendships and attachments to their high school mentors.
“All the students are benefiting from this program," she said. "I see my third graders gaining extra reading practice, one-on-one time and seeing a positive role model in the high school students. I see that the high school students are benefiting from self-esteem building to seeing that they can make a difference in someone’s life."
Canton principal Gwen Lince praised the program. She said it has motivated the students.
“Both the high school and elementary school students are eager and excited," she said.