Fulfilling high expectations and showing solid leadership, middle school students share love of reading with younger students and encourage them to learn and grow. When younger students have older mentors to look up to, everyone benefits.
Maaike Thomas, school social worker at P.R. Leyva Middle school in Carlsbad New Mexico and sponsor for Junior Honor Society, said that the expectations placed on these students makes them leaders in the school community and an example she hopes other students will emulate.
“We have pillars of expectations for the students. We have service, character, citizenship, academics.”
These students were offered the opportunity to fulfill those service hours by participating in a reading program.
Based on a similar project which was held at a district where Thomas used to work, the Reading Program brings P.R. Leyva eighth graders into elementary schools district wide to read with students.
“It’s important to give back to the community. The community helps, of course, fund our schooling and helps provide the needs for our education here so we think its pretty important that our students learn to give back to the community that gives to them.” Thomas said.
Thomas, who took on the advisor position at the beginning of the school year has seen the project grow and impact not only her JHS students but the young kids who they read to.
“The reading, I thought, was important because it’s another opportunity for our students to engage with the younger population here in Carlsbad. To give that example and that presence of the importance of learning, importance of reading, and importance of excelling in academics.”
The program has become a great success and popular with those P.R. Leyva students who participate.
“Our kids walk in the classroom and you would think a superhero just came in the room,” Thomas said. “And I think its neat for our kids to see that they are that example, that they are setting that example for kids.”
Eighth grader Andrew Easley struggled with reading in the third grade. A challenge he overcame with the help of his mother and grandmother, and that he says helped him become successful in school.
“They’re really processing their experience,” Thomas said.
“It’s the first and second graders that tend to catch you,” said Skyler F. Whatever mistakes she makes when reading she blames on the pressure she feels when reading out loud.
Her fellow society member, Nate Arrington, prefers sports but will read what’s necessary when working with the elementary children.
“I think it’s really cool to see the faces on the little kids whenever they see us come,” Arrington said. “The kids know we are there for them and if they needs us we’re always here, and to get kids to start reading at an early age gets them to read later on.”
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