New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Fifth Graders Reflect on Involvement in Leadership Program

Twelve Jefferson Elementary School fifth-grade students are reflecting on a busy fourth-grade year as part of the innovative “Leaders & Learners” program. The students were carefully selected for the mentoring program, in which they helped struggling kindergarteners with literacy skills, because of their strong leadership abilities.

Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, the fourth graders gave up their “fun Fridays” as part of “Leaders & Learners”. They spent that time mentoring the young kindergarteners throughout the year.

The students said they loved the experience of working with the younger students.

“I felt excited,” said Jacob Lewko. “I wanted to help the kids learn.”

Danya Alboslani said she and the other students were selected to be role models for the kindergarten students.

“It’s about showing the kids what they’re supposed to do,” Alboslani said.

Student Kimberly Arce said it was an honor to be chosen.

“(Principal Nancy Sarra) expects us to show what being a leader is by how we act and how we talk,” Arce said.

Student Jose Diaz said he liked being a role model.

“You get to teach other students what’s right and what’s wrong,” he said.

And the results were great, said Jason Zuchowicz.

“It makes me glad since I know the kindergarteners know how to read,” he said.

In addition to spending time teaching literacy skills to their young charges, the group of older students spent the year involved in many other leadership activities. They attended a conference where they learned team-building activities, they helped organize a food drive, they planted flowers and weeded the school flower beds and they initiated a movement to keep the school bathrooms clean.

The students, now in fifth grade, will continue to work with the younger students, now first graders, because they have built strong relationships. As part of “Leaders & Learners,” started by District Wide Literacy Specialist Sarah Mangiafico, there will be a new group of fourth grade leaders selected and paired up with kindergarteners this fall.