Florida Elementary School Reading Club Matches Young Students With Teen Tutors

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iStock.com/Weekend Images Inc. / iStock.com/Weekend Images Inc.

A Hillsborough County, Florida school district is recruiting teens to help foster a passion for reading in younger students, Tampa Bay Times reports. Every Tuesday morning, second graders from Bailey Elementary School in Dover, Florida meet with student tutors from the high school across the street—and the program is already proving beneficial for students from both schools.

At least 24 percent of the student body at Bailey Elementary fall below the reading levels required to pass Florida Standards Assessments. To help get students where they need to be, teachers turned to Teen Trendsetters, a student community service group from Strawberry Crest High. After they've been trained with teaching strategies, the tutors are ready to meet with students one-on-one and guide them through reading sessions.

Each meeting is more than just a lesson—teen tutors start by making small talk with students about their lives, helping them to feel more comfortable and building a student-teacher relationship. When the class is over, kids are given books and other materials to read at home with their parents.

The impact of the Teen Trendsetters sessions is clear: According to a study done by the University of Maine, half of the students were able to boost their reading skills up a whole grade level just a few months after entering the program at a below-average reading level. The tutors benefit as well: If they want to pursue teaching after high school, the club gives them an opportunity to develop their skills.

Other schools in Hillsborough County have partnered to implement the program, including Jefferson High School and Roland Park K-8; and Progress Village Middle and Lamb Elementary.

[h/t Tampa Bay Times]