History: Reflections from PS 125 ☆

In 2006, the TC Reading & Math Buddies Program worked with classrooms at PS125. Below are some reflections from administrators, teachers, and Buddies following the experience.

“Nestled between the communities of Harlem and Morningside Heights is The Ralph Bunche School, our teacher/learning environment. On any morning from Monday to Friday between 9:00-11:00am (prime learning time), you will see an inspiring sight! There sitting outside one of our Early Grade classrooms or tucked snugly in an alcove of the Early Grade Learning Center, you will be able to hear a pin drop! Upon further investigation you will see two bridges linked; one bridge is personified in the work of the Teachers College Reading Buddy, the other is personified in the Early Childhood student from The Ralph Bunche School. These symbolic bridges embellish our school motto of “Building Bridges To Excellence”. The Teachers College Reading Buddies Program is an enriching opportunity for students whose reading skills are below academic standards, to receive additional one-to-one reading instruction. This partnership enhances students self-esteem and confidence and builds reading fluency and comprehension. However, most importantly, I believe it is an invaluable investment in our greatest natural resource – our children. These two bridges connect leading to increased aspirations and the realization that “anything is possible”! Together we can and will make A Difference. We L-O-V-E. The Reading Buddies Program!
Lauvia Sherman, Principal

“Having our Reading Buddy not only motivates the kids she works with to improve their reading, but it gives them the extra one-on-one time that I, as the teacher, am not always able to give them daily. I have seen progress in the reading abilities of the children our Reading Buddy works with, and I enjoy having her assistance in helping the children achieve their goals. ”
Ms. Mariel Davis, Teacher

“Six times a day I spend 25 transformative minutes with a remarkable third grader who doesn’t stand out as exceptional compared to the children in their classroom that fit the conventional mold of intelligence. I know better. As the 25-minute sessions have added up to hours, we have connected with literature, our world, each other, and that brilliant child’s self as a capable and skilled individual. The pace, discussion, and purpose of our time are set and modified by that child’s interests, questions, discoveries, and needs. From our reading, we may create story maps, concept webs, engage in spelling pattern searches, add a new word to the student’s lexicon, or even produce a readers’ theatre. As a Reading Buddy, I do more than tutor. I act as a librarian, guide, coach, and audience for six incredible children whose talents, voices, and potential contributions are not fully realized within the crowded classroom community.

My best success story is also the most heart-breaking. A. is a child who does not function well with the structure and demands of school. He performs poorly on standardized assessments and many class assignments. However, in our sessions I have seen his intelligence shine through the distraction. He blossoms as a scholar when we read and write together, and he was a star in our readers’ theatre as well. Although I have seen improvement in his focus and willingness to work in class, his performance on those standardized tests will continue to label him as something less than he is. My hope is he carries my words of praise and encouragement in his heart.”
Teressa Brake, Reading Buddy

“I start my day in the classroom early in the morning, just as the students are starting their day too. Usually as I walk into the classroom, my students would come to me, asking to be the first to work with me! So I do make sure I vary the student who goes 1st each day! Working with 6 students for 25 minutes each, they read stories aloud, do word exercises, play rhyming games, or even write their own stories! It is definitely a great way to start my day!”
Tuan Chen Ch’ng, Reading Buddy

“After hours of delusion, up until 2 a.m., writing papers, creating lesson plans, and looking for jobs, I dash down the street and around the block. I burst through the doors and sign in the guest book. I tell Ms. Christopher Good morning and dash up the steps, if nobody is watching. I slide into the Principal’s office, then I rush back to the first floor and glide into the room to a chorus of “Good morning, Ms. Elizabeth!” A spectrum of anxious faces watch my every move as I put up my coat and pull out my books. All of them wondering, who will be first today? Will she ever pick me? With a heavy heart for those I can’t read with and a happy soul for the ones I am helping, I quietly go to my first buddy for the day and say, “Let’s go read.” As we begin our foray into another interesting world, I think about how grateful I am to these children for allowing me to be a part of their day and for sharing themselves with me.”
Elizabeth Lammons, Reading Buddy

Reposted from: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/centers/edzone/schools/quotes2006_ps125.html