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Reading buddies: Park High School students team up with Crestview kids

Mohamed Yasin (left) and Sicilya Knot read an article about exchanging dollar bills for coins with Park High School student Sahara Molinaro. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner1 / 2
Fifth-grader Gerold Eurle (left) explains the main idea of an article he read in a small group facilitated by Park High School student Brandon Krech in a reading class at Crestview Elementary School. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner2 / 2

When it comes to reading, they're getting the "main idea" at Crestview Elementary School.

Once a week, Sara Heideman, who teaches students in "efficient reading" at Park High School, takes her charges on a short walk to nearby Crestview Elementary School to meet some new friends in Tammy Wilson's fifth-grade class, where the students pair up for reading.

On a recent week, the lesson, developed by the teens, involved learning to find the "main idea" in an article debating the pros and cons of replacing paper dollar bills with coins.

"The students pick out the articles for the kids and work out the lessons," said Heideman.

In small groups guided by teen facilitators, everyone read the article and found the main idea.

Fifth-grader Gerold Eurle said things went well in his small group and his classmate Jacob Gundvaldson said the lesson makes more sense when they read it together.

"I'm supposed to teach it but, at the same time, I'm learning it," said Brandon Krech, a group leader.

His group also wanted to discuss the pros and cons of replacing the bills.

Fifth-grader Mohamid Yasin said he got the main idea right away but Sicilya Knott was more reflective.

In the past, she said, she had trouble identifying the main idea in articles. In a group led by Sahara Molinaro, she was more relaxed and got it right away.

"It helped me a lot," Knott said. "I didn't do that well before and this made it fun."

Molinaro said she enjoys helping the fifth-graders.

Team teaching is common in District 833 schools, but Wilson and Heideman have carried the idea further by crossing grade levels and schools.

Wilson said her students look forward to being with the teens.

"We're talking about expanding the idea to social studies," Heideman said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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