By Aimee Arandia Østensen
7-8s Head Teacher
Our book drive for the Union Settlement pre-school was a huge success. Thank you for all of your donations. We have had a relationship with Union Settlement since the fall through our use of their community garden, El Sítio Felíz.
In October and November, our work centered around composting plant litter and planting empty garden beds with a cover crop of winter rye. It was a thrill this week to return to these beds after the winter and to see our rye flourishing. This coming week, we will go back to the garden to harvest the rye for Jeffrey, the rabbit in the 4-5s classroom and to prepare the garden beds for spring planting.
Now, our relationship with this East Harlem community center has taken on a new dimension through a reading buddy program with one preschool class. It was impressive to see our 7- and 8-year-olds taken on the role of the older mentors in a reading buddy relationship. They were caring, responsive, encouraging, and skilled readers and caregivers for our 2- and 3-year-old partners. I think that a number of our 7-8s students were surprised to see how much they have learned about books and reading since they were preschoolers.
The Union Settlement teachers were so thrilled with this new community connection that they immediately invited our children back to read with their students three more times this spring! While we are not likely to be able to schedule that many more reading buddy times, we will definitely return one more time in April for another round of book sharing. So, if you rummage up more books that a preschooler would enjoy, please send it our way. We will reach out to other classes at MCS for this second book drive.