MILLEDGEVILLE — John Milledge Academy ninth-grader Livi Edmonson is enjoying being a role model and mentor in an effort to help improve reading levels of third grade students this year through the Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentors program.
“It gives you a good feeling because you know that you’re helping the students. We’re helping them become an all-around better readers and learners,” she said while reading to third-grader Joon Sung Monday afternoon. “[This program] is beneficial because they’re learning and we’re learning how to mentor.”
The youth mentoring program is through the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. JMA was also awarded grant funding for the Teen Trendsetters program in 2009 and 2010.
“In the past, elementary students have raised their Accelerated Reading scores as much as 2.5 points throughout the year,” said Jessica Jones, JMA high school English teacher. “It was a phenomenal program. We’re very excited to have it back this year since it was really successful in the past. We’re looking forward to making similar strides this year and have fun watching my high schoolers getting excited about seeing their mentees each Monday.”
This year, 34 ninth grade honor students are serving as mentors to 42 third grade students. The program kicked off Thursday, Oct. 31.
“Of the 42 third-graders, 36 are reading below a 3.0 reading level, which is right at the third-grade level. That’s astounding for what our expectations are at JMA,” Jones said. “Our goal is to improve basic reading skills of the younger students and to nurture a volunteer spirit among youth leaders.”
Each week, the mentors and mentees convene for 40 minutes to complete a science-based reading curriculum designed by the Teen Trendsetters program and Scholastic Inc. Elementary participants receive magazines and books focused on science topics throughout the school year, or 16 meetings, to add to their at-home library. Many books are accompanied by comprehension worksheets.