Arnone Elementary School, March 29, 2017

On Wednesday, March 29th, the Arnone School in Brockton hosted the third #GBJCL20 birthday party of the season! Students shared their favorite books and what characters they knew. The incredible group of students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade sang Happy Birthday to the program with gusto. Students even taught the group how to say happy birthday in Spanish, Creole and Haitian Creole!

Principal Colleen Proudler shared her appreciation for the program noting throughout her eight years at the school that seeing tutors and students working together in the hallways is always the highlight of her day. Rabbi Ken Carr of Temple Chayai Shalom joined the group to show his support of his many congregants involved. Tutors who are members of Temple Beth Emunah joined sharing the number of years they have been volunteering with the program with Tina Langson, co-team leader, serving the longest at 11 years.

Students enjoyed birthday cake and each chose a book to take home. A number of students brought back cake and apples for their teachers and took photos with their tutors at the photo booth decorated with balloons. We look forward to more celebrations this spring!

Potter Road Elementary School, March 27, 2017

Volunteers from Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley and students from Framingham’s Potter Road Elementary School gathered in the school cafeteria to celebrate the 20th birthday of the Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Students spoke about their experiences, tutors shared reflections, and the entire room boisterously sang happy birthday.

Principal Paula Del Prete led the students in a particularly special treat: singing happy birthday in Portuguese, while Assistant Principal Larry Wolpe accompanied the group on the piano. The students colored bookmarks, received special #GBJCL20 stickers, and each student selected a book to take home with them. “The Nose Book” by Dr. Seuss was particularly moving for one student, who hugged her selection and jumped up and down; sharing that she wanted her tutor to read it to her.

Thank you to Team Leaders Wendy Cultice and Judy Zimmerman, and former Team Leaders Sheila Heller and Susan Tofias for their many years of service making the program with TBE and Potter Road a reality for 20 years!

Jackson Mann Elementary School, January 27, 2017

On January 27, student volunteers from the eighth-grade class at the Jewish Community Day School (JCDS) hosted a class of 3rd graders from the Jackson Mann Elementary school in Boston for the first official #GBJCL20 kick-off party.

Working with GBJCL, JCRC’s TELEM teens are matched with public schools students to read one-on-one and provide academic support.

The birthday party was the culmination of a brand new partnership between the two schools who have worked together over the last several months. The “reading buddies” sorted through books, colored bookmarks and shared their favorite memories from the year-long adventure with their reading buddy. “I realized how much my buddy and I have in common. It’s fun to get to know her and know that we are so similar,” said one student. As part of his Bar Mitzvah Project, a student named Simeon rallied the JCDS students to collect more than 200 books to donate to the Brighton elementary school, and the project even enabled each Jackson Mann student to bring five books home with him or her.

Dr. Susie Tanchel, head of JCDS, spoke highly of the collaboration between the two schools. “This program has broadened the (JCDS) students’ horizons,” she said.  “It has allowed them to see beyond what they have, and that they have an obligation to contribute to this world. That’s when you see the power of learning; when kids put it into action.”

The impact of the entire program is profound; “Oh my God, I’m going to cry!” said one JCDS 8th grader, who found a note that her buddy left her. “She wrote, ‘I’m going to miss you and will never forget you.’”