In February of 2016, a group of Rochester Catholic Schools teachers and staff began constructing the blueprints for an interactive reading program between Lourdes High School students and younger RCS grade school students.
This one-on-one reading program called Eagle Readers, partners a high school student with a student at the elementary level who is need of extra assistance in reading skills such as comprehension or decoding. Partners meet once per week at the elementary schools and read together from the Scholastic Inc. program Brainstorm™. Brainstorm™ books and magazines are entirely science based, offering fun and highly interactive lessons that vary in content subject. Currently, Eagle Readers is offered at Holy Spirit Catholic School and St. Pius X School with the hopes to expand into St. Francis of Assisi School in its third semester (Fall of 2017).
Eagle Readers kicked-off in October of 2016 with eleven Lourdes volunteers journeying to Holy Spirit once per week to read with their 2nd or 3rd grade buddy. The bonding began immediately and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The Lourdes students expressed excitement and joy when discussing their Eagle Readers sessions and shared the initial observations of their buddies. These observations proved monumental when the semester came to a close and the Lourdes volunteers reflected back on the growth they’d witnessed over the course of the semester. Lourdes students shared unanimously that they observed a distinct growth in confidence in their buddy, but most notable was a new excitement to read! These observations were echoed in stories and notes from teachers and from statements the elementary Eagle Readers were making. Lourdes students also reflected on growth within themselves, noting expressions of patience, use of problem solving, and moments of listening when their buddy needed to share something exciting or noteworthy from their day.
The RCS teachers and staff behind Eagle Readers are extremely proud of the program and the opportunities it’s provided. Eagle Readers seeks to not only build on literacy skills, but to also build community within the Rochester Catholic School System.