Our final Reading Buddy Appreciation Tea was held on May 11, 2012, where the volunteers were given their thank you notes and lots of hugs by their student readers. It was a great wrap up to the reading buddy year. Over 70 students had a one on one relationship with the same adult over the course of 10 months. 18 adult volunteers gave one hour of their time once a week to come and sit and read with their assigned 4 students.
As a final touch to the grant, Dana Gilbertson, media specialist, took pictures of the Adult Reading Volunteer and their reading buddies and created an end of the year thank you card to give out to each adult volunteer. With the remaining funds left, the Reading Buddy Coordinator ordered reading certificates, stickers, and other small items that will help the Reading Buddy program continue for next year with reading incentives.
The books arrived in February and our AmeriCorps volunteer spent many hours labeling each book and then placing identification stamps on the book in case it became lost. Also in February, the tubs arrived and labeling was placed on the outside of the tubs for easy identification of the level of books that would be placed inside.
In March, the shelving arrived and the District custodians installed the shelves above the heater vents on the wall and the tubs, books, and reading logs were quickly settled into their appropriate homes. The old red library cart was taken away and the reading buddy burst with reading enthusiasm! Many positive comments from adult volunteers, staff, and even the students made the whole project worthwhile.
All this changed when the Reading Buddy grant was awarded! Thanks to the Foundation grant, Dana and Susan immediately contacted the District carpenters who came out to the site and measured the area in which the shelving was to be placed. The carpenters did a fantastic job of matching the stain to the original bookshelves near the Buddy Area. Next, tubs to house the leveled library books were bought so that all the tubs would match and fit neatly and snugly on the shelves. Finally, the reading teacher, Susan Marquardt, was able to find a vendor who had lower level leveled books with enticing pictures and was easy to read by beginner readers. These books were purchased in multiple copies.
Project Directors Dana Gilbertson and Susan Marquardt applied in October, 2011, for $2500.00 to be used to fund a Reading Buddy program that was badly in need of leveled books, shelving, and tubs to store the books in for their program. The reading buddy program is an established system at Elton Hills which pairs an adult volunteer with 3-4 kindergarten and first grade students each week. However, the books that originally had been donated to the program were worn, old, and high reading levels. The books had no home but were simply stored on a cart parked in a corner of the library.
A big thank you goes out to the Rochester Public School Foundation who chose to award the grant to Elton Hills with grant money. Your grant dollars will be at work for many years to come and many students will thrive from this Reading Buddy Program!