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High School Mentors Inspiring Young Readers

High School Mentors Inspiring Young Readers
swahs students

The students of South Washington Alternative High School (SWAHS) seek out opportunities to give back to their community while honing their own skills. 

swahs reading

Cultural Liaison Elliott Vang created a partnership with Armstrong Elementary and the preschool classes at the District Program Center for the SWAHS students to have a new opportunity. 18 students from SWAHS visit a kindergarten or preschool class every other Friday to read books and spend quality time with the younger students.

“The SWAHS students look forward to this partnership every other Friday,” Vang said. “Some students have expressed that they enjoy working with the younger students and can see themselves as teachers one day.”

“They are super fun and love trying to read along with you,” said twelfth grader Chloe Velasquez. “It has inspired me to consider being an elementary teacher.”

swahs with preschool

Reading aloud to elementary students is a powerful tool for enhancing literacy skills. The high school students model fluency, pronunciation and introduce new vocabulary and concepts. 

“Reading with them reminds you that you can improve over time and take things at your own pace,” said eleventh grader Lluvia Menendez, “reading can open a new world for you.” 

The interactive nature of storytelling encourages elementary students to ask questions, make connections, and develop critical thinking skills—all essential components of literacy development.

“They are so open-minded and chatty,” said twelfth grader Roselin Alvarez “Their energy radiates off of them and makes you feel like a little kid again.”

These interactions create opportunities for meaningful connections. The mentorship aspect also cultivates confidence and empathy for the high school students. 

swahs with preschool

“I’ve found that I love reading them books about being comfortable with yourself and knowing your worth,” twelfth grader Isabella Mendoza said, “communicating with the kids and making connections has been very special for me.” 

The elementary students benefit from the attention and encouragement of older peers, boosting their self-esteem and fostering a sense of belonging.

“The kids just love it when the older kids come to read, they just light up,” said Jodi Campbell, a Kindergarten teacher at Armstrong Elementary.