By Tanaya Stumpf
One of Saint Mary’s major school-wide focuses this year has been to foster and create a culture of reading, a foundational stone in our children’s road to success. Throughout the year, different grade-appropriate books and reading activities have been widely promoted, both in the individual classrooms and at whole school activities. Many of the celebrations at Saint Mary this year have included “buddy-reading parties,” during which the older student buddy either reads directly to their younger student buddy or listens and helps as the younger student reads to them. During Catholic School’s Week, Saint Mary even held a read-a-thon for all grades!
While many things have changed since we moved to distance learning after the Stay-at-Home order was established, we knew that “reading” would be one of those things that could and should continue for our students. So, Saint Mary School is still working diligently to still foster a culture of reading, even if it is a little different than what students are used to.
On Thursday, April 23, Saint Mary’s kindergartners and first graders both had a special treat. Students joined a Zoom meeting to catch up and hear a story read aloud by familiar and comforting voices: those of their own teachers. Both Mrs. Wheeler and Mrs. Caragio visited Kindergartners and checked in with students who had celebrated their birthday during this time of shelter-at-home, asking what special things they did to celebrate. Mrs. Wheeler then read a story about a mole discovering spring, which the children thoroughly enjoyed. First grade teacher, Mrs. Donovan, asked students to share with the class how they spent their Easter break before reading a non-fiction story about frogs to the students! Both classes worked on active listening and did an amazing job at taking turns speaking.
Besides the fundamental skills that our kids develop by reading or being read to, we know that through this activity, though it may be virtual, we are connecting with each of them in a special way and allowing them to grow one of their most important God-given gifts: their unlimited imagination.