Volunteers were recognised with personal letters from their little buddies and treated to lunch at the art gallery.
Volunteer ‘‘Reading Buddies’’ from Benalla East Primary School had a lovely surprise before Christmas.
They were presented with personal thank you letters from their little buddies for helping to improve their literacy skills.
The volunteers were officially recognised and thanked at a celebratory lunch at Benalla Art Gallery Cafe by Tomorrow:Today Foundation’s Education Benalla Program manager Pat Claridge, Benalla East Primary School principal Rick Martin and literacy and volunteer support staff.
The ‘‘Reading Buddy Program’’ for Prep and Grade 1 and 2 students is a first for Benalla.
The program provides early intervention when students are struggling with reading and writing.
‘‘We aim to help the students before they fall behind,’’ Mr Martin said.
‘‘Early evaluation of the program indicates very encouraging improvements in the student’s literacy levels as well as their confidence in the classroom.’’
Reading Buddies come to the school at regular times each week, spending quality reading, writing and listening time with their young charges.
Every Reading Buddy is matched to just one student, so the attention is personal.
Tannis Brooks, co-ordinator of the program for Benalla East said the personal connection between adult volunteer and student was as valuable as the academic support they offered.
‘‘The children look forward to the days their Reading Buddies come. They establish a special relationship,’’ Ms Brooks said.
Tomorrow:Today Foundation is looking to expand the program across all Benalla Primary Schools this year.
Volunteer co-ordinator Sabine Smyth said up to 20 more ‘‘Reading Buddies’’ needed to be recruited.
‘‘So if anyone has written on their list of new year’s resolutions that they want to get more involved in volunteering, we would love to hear from them,’’ she said.
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