By Lea G., 6th Grade, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno

For the third year, the sixth-grade students at Krieger Schechter Day School had the privilege of being part of the Macht Reading Buddies Program. Each month throughout the course of the school year, participating KSDS students visited Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in Baltimore City, partnering with first-grade students by spending time together reading, doing art projects and bonding.

On Thursday, May 30, students joined together for the final time of the school year. However, for the first time ever, the Dorothy I. Height students came to KSDS. The fun-filled morning started with storytelling presentations by two KSDS seventh-graders. Then, the sixth-grade students joined their reading buddies, with whom they had been partnered since the beginning of the school year. They enjoyed a sweet treat of juice and doughnuts and sat down to read stories together. After each group finished reading the sixth-graders’ all-time favorites, they acted out the stories.

Kelly Platzke, a KSDS middle school English teacher, has helped organize and lead KSDS’s partnership with Dorothy I. Height for the past three years. According to Platzke, the program, which is funded by the Macht family and coordinated through Child First Authority, gives the younger students a fun reading experience, models reading skills, and could even encourage the students to read more. 

Platzke says she especially liked that the sixth-graders had the opportunity to share their favorite childhood books with their buddies. Her favorite part of the day was when each group acted out their book. She believes that the storytelling was a great literacy activity that should be repeated with future grades. Platzke was delighted to hear that the teachers at Dorothy I. Height Elementary School would like to come to KSDS twice a year in the future because of how well the day went. 

“My favorite part was hearing about my buddies’ life and friends,” sixth-grader Jacob T. stated. “I learned that reading can be a source of joy for a lot of students. One of my buddies went from not being able to read, to being able to sound out most words. This all happened during the course of the program. I would describe the experience as different because we could learn about the different lives and cultures of our buddies. We could find the similarities that we shared. We used both the similarities and the differences to bond and become friends.”

Marissa B., another sixth-grade participant, shared, “I enjoyed having time with my buddy. I loved reading with her. My favorite part was when I taught her how to make a heart out of paper, and now she is obsessed with it. I think my buddy learned not to be as shy as she was before. I would describe this experience as exciting, enjoyable and amazing.”

This year’s Macht Reading Buddies program was a special opportunity for everyone involved — students and teachers alike. The students enjoyed making new friends, working on literacy skills together in a fun way, and learning a lot from one another. Everyone at KSDS and Dorothy I. Height look forward to continuing this program next year.