Many schools see the benefit to having a “Buddy System” – older student’s teaming up with younger students to help as needed not only to assist with projects throughout the year, but also to act as role models and set a good example for all. Valuable skills are learned; responsibility, accountability and leadership as well as developing skills to listen closely to others and maybe to find much needed patience at times. Perhaps the most significant benefit is the sense of wellbeing gained when helping one another!
At Saint Elizabeth Seton School we have several ongoing Buddy Projects: the eighth graders regularly pair with first grade for art and math projects; they sit together during school Masses and assemblies, and continue to work on service projects throughout the year. Early morning reading in Ms. Estes’ class invites older students to volunteer and listen to our younger students read aloud. Our Junior High students read to Pre-K students after school twice a week too. We see great relationships forging as Buddies acknowledge each other when passing in the hallways.
Recently we stumbled across another effective way to go beyond the standard Buddy System.
Many of our Seton School families work long hours, may have multiple jobs and some families travel quite a distance to attend an affordable Catholic school. Homework for parents to oversee and manage after the school and work day can be quite a challenge. Quite honestly, both students and parents are tired by the end of the day.
Recently, a Seton parent approached our Vice Principal, Mrs. Maguire, for more homework help for her student. We do have an after-school Homework Club once a week and some wonderful after school tutors and volunteers… but there is always a need for more. Mrs. Maguire thought to arrange for Diana – an eighth grade student who stays for the Extended Care Program – to work with this particular student. Diana and second grader, Jayla, meet after school to simply facilitate and complete homework. A quiet area is provided and the results have been better than expected. Diana is growing in confidence, responsibility and leadership – she’s displaying quite a talent for working with others. Her kind and willing heart are being put to good use. Jayla gets the opportunity to have help as needed; works one-on-one with a peer, feels great about completing her work before going home, and really enjoys her time with Diana.
We think this is the beginning of something new for Seton School. We have many students that stay after school – if we can take what we have learned from this pilot run and apply it to others, then we have a win-win situation for everyone. And we’re pretty sure that the hallways will come to life in a positive sense with even more team camaraderie being built.