Friday, April 27, 2012

Pen Pals

Rahima worked for the Greenfield Public Schools in various capacities. One of the projects that she initiated was a pen pal reading program for sixth graders which was so successful last year that the superintendent expanded the program this year to include the entire 6th Grade.

Joan, a volunteer who worked closely with Rahima, has picked up the program and is doing a fabulous job. More than 100 adult residents of Greenfield have been matched up with the students.

Here's how it works: Everyone reads the same book. In the course of reading, the adults and children exchange a series of letters—actual letters that are mailed through the US Post Office in bright yellow envelopes. They write a little about themselves and their thoughts about the book. At the end, the students and their adult pen pals have the opportunity to meet each other at a big party.

The book this year is "Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis, an engaging memoir of a boy who is left orphaned and is in search of a new family. In some ways I identify with Bud although he had a much harder time of it.

This year, I am participating as a pen pal. My students are Jack and Zach, and we're just beginning to get acquainted.

Rahima delighted in coming up with schemes like this, that connected people in new ways and gave them insight into themselves and their community. She was a pioneer in service-learning as a rich field for education. She loved this work and I enjoyed seeing the charge she got out of doing it.


What lessons have your learned or are you continuing to learn from Rahima? If you're in the pen pal program, how's it going for you?

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