The Bristol Tennessee City Schools Reading Buddy program has been recognized for “innovation and excellence” in public schools.
Bristol Tennessee Board of Education Member Nelson Pyle recently traveled to the National School Boards Association conference in Nashville to accept Honorable Mention for The Magna Awards for the program. The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, recognize school districts and their leaders taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of their students and their communities. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.
Bristol Tennessee City Schools’ Reading Buddy program was launched last school year in kindergarten at Anderson Elementary School. This year, the program expanded to include first graders (last year’s kindergarten participants) at Anderson and kindergartners at both Anderson and Fairmount. Reading Buddies are adult volunteers who are partnered to meet with a student on a weekly basis. The volunteer reads one-on-one with his/her assigned Reading Buddy or participates in other activities to build reading skills. In addition to the academic component, students in the program build crucial relationships with a caring adult.
Students are selected to participate based on greatest academic need. Ideally, every student will have a Reading Buddy, but this is determined by the number of volunteers. Students begin the program as kindergartners, and the objective is that in three years as third graders, 90% of students will be reading at or above proficiency.
“Reading is a necessary skill for success throughout life. Many of our students are not getting early exposure to reading, thus they are not making the progress necessary to experience academic success,” said Anderson Elementary School Principal Andrew Brown. “Although parents want their children to be successful, sometimes they do not know what they can do or how they can best assist. With this program, we also provide opportunities for parents to learn how they can support their child’s reading success.”
This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Bristol won honorable mention in the under 5,000 students category.
All of the 2015 winners are highlighted in a special section in the April issue of ASBJ and were formally recognized at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s Annual Conference. In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts’ winning entries are posted at www.nsba.org/newsroom/american-school-board-journal/magna-awards.