After receiving an $8 million bond-funded remodel during the summer, the Tollgate Elementary School of Expeditionary Learning started the year with a bright idea to match its brand new look. On the first day of school, every kindergartner was paired with a fifth-grade buddy to help ease the transition of starting school. The fifth-grade students helped their new buddies by showing them around the school, teaching them morning routines, and offering friendship and support.
The Tollgate buddy program reflects the Expeditionary Learning philosophy of leadership. “It’s important for students to learn from other students, instead of always from adults,” said Tollgate Fifth-Grade Teacher Scott Alverson. “The fifth-grade students have become role models to the younger students, and the kindergartners feel more comfortable and connected to the school.”
When Tollgate held its grand opening in September, the fifth graders and their kindergarten buddies climbed onto the outdoor terrace and performed a fitting tribute to the school entitled “A Brand New Day.”
The student buddies will continue to meet at least once a week to read together or work on projects such as learning new words and using iPad technology.
WHAT TOLLGATE STUDENTS SAY ABOUT BEING A BUDDY:
“It helps us because we have more responsibility and we have to be role models.”
“It was awkward at first, and we didn’t know each other. Now we can hold hands and he trusts me.”
“My buddy has really opened up. We have built trust, and she has become less shy. My buddy has lots of friends now.”
“We have to learn patience and have perseverance especially when they are acting up.”