“The beauty of it was that we also got the kids writing!”
Remote learning has proven difficult for kids at CV – it lacks the individualized attention that many students need. But the Pen Pal Program has been serving as a fantastic supplement to keep young people engaged.
Sue Meigs, Director of the Open Door Library Program, explains that “the Pen Pal program made it possible for the volunteers and kids to really engage with each other—on paper rather than on screens—and to have the one-on-one interaction that’s fundamental to the Open Door and FLY programs. The volunteers put an enormous amount of energy and thought into the program, and the kids responded even more strongly than expected to the special, individual attention. The beauty of it was that we also got the kids writing!”
When the Pen Pal Program was introduced, all of CV’s literacy volunteers in the school — the teachers in the FLY reading-intervention program, led by Joanne Levine, and Open Door’s reading volunteers — signed on to be pen pals. The idea was for the pen-pal deliveries to serve as ‘virtual visits’ from the volunteers — taking the place of the Open Door and FLY reading programs until the volunteers could return.
The teachers in the school incorporated the letters being sent and received into the reading and writing curriculum for the day. The volunteers were creative with their letters — sending poems, little books, jokes, and more — and the kids would have the teachers’ help and supervision in the classroom to read and respond.
Each week the pen pals dropped off their letters to be delivered to the classrooms. This always included a different activity such as sticker books, connect-the-dot drawings, WordFinds, and new books for the kids to dive into. Each child had his own big envelope with his name on it to open with a letter and an activity inside.
Despite not being able to meet in person, the students have really enjoyed staying connected in this way.
Thank you to all of the volunteers, teachers, and students who brought the Pen Pal Program to light!