Mentor program uses students as teachers

Published 3:05 pm Saturday, June 3, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Some Ballard Elementary School students have taken on the role of instructor.
Twice a week, a group of students who speak Spanish as a first language meet with instructional assistant Sandra Rider. During the half-hour period of the English Language Learners Project, fourth and fifth graders mentor younger students in speaking and reading English by guiding them through educational books.
All the books are aimed at educating elementary students, so even the older group can enjoy not only teaching fellow schoolmates, but also reading the stories themselves.
Some of the texts available include ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog', ‘Froggy's Sleepover' and the ‘I Am' series. The books were purchased through a grant from a Michigan Gateway Community Foundation and Youth Advisory Council. And, the grant was written and submitted by the older students including Jessica and fellow fifth grader Daisy Esquivel, and fourth grader Christian Tejeda.
The $300 grant purchased enough books that the participants will be able to keep a few when the semester is over.
Teachers selected children in their class they thought could benefit from learning with older students, Rider said. Language Learners began just after spring break and progress has been noticeable in all the participants.
Jennifer Lyle, a fluent speaker of Spanish and the fifth grade teacher at Ballard that organized the project, said the younger students have improved their reading skills and the older students like Daisy have become more outgoing.
Along with adding some experience to her teaching resume.