Friday, April 22, 2016

Students celebrate generations of learners with their grandparents - by Anne Libby

On Wednesday, April13th the eighth grade classes of Pam Mallard and Lisa Hodge hosted a multi-generation celebration for their second grade buddies and all of the students’ grandparents. The event was held in the Windham Middle School cafeteria. There was a slideshow that showed the second and eighth graders experiences with the buddy program, showing smiling and engaged kids working and bonding with each other. There were many pictures of reading sessions, and arts and craft projects. The cafeteria was packed with the four classes and their grandparents, who had come to see and be a part of three different generations coming together to learn and demonstrate what they built throughout the year.
The buddy program has been an annual collaboration between second grade teachers Elaine Hawthorne and Aileen Pelletier, and Mallard and Hodge, who have been doing this project for the past 10 years. 

The buddy program works like this: The middle school students are paired with a primary school student for the whole year. Once a month they meet at the library and do little things together, like reading, arts and crafts, making snowmen outside, creating Valentine ’s Day cards for nursing homes, and hosting a candy drive to send sweets as well as cards to the troops overseas. The program tries to engage all the students in outreach and community projects. 

“The goal of the program is really just to make this connection with their buddies, and hopefully have a life long relationship with mentoring,” said Mallard. 

“It’s about forming a bond with somebody you wouldn’t usually know or hang out with,” one of Mallard’s students said. 

When asked about this special grandparent’s day, the students in Hodge’s homeroom had a very similar response, that the time that was set aside for the ceremony was about honoring and appreciating their grandparents, and allowing their grandparents to see what they have accomplished, but also to talk to the grandparents and connect on a deeper level than usual. And when asked if they enjoyed working with their buddies, the answer was a strong, and simultaneous “yes”. 

“We’re their role models, we’re leading them, [we’re] teaching them what we’ve learned (from others) and we get to teach it to them,” one girl described as to what had the most impact on her from this program.

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