Wednesday, October 1, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The write stuff: Volunteers and student buddies share stories and friendship

1105 writing buddies2W

Writing buddies Tony Fanning, left, and Damien Santana work together in Damien's class at Montgomery Elementary. Fanning was instrumental in bringing the volunteer-based program to Montgomery after having run successful writing buddy programs in the Bay Area for 15 years. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page A10 | November 05, 2013 |

At first glance, Judy Maki, a retired high school English teacher, and Luke Blewett, a second-grader at Marguerite Montgomery Elementary School, wouldn’t seem to have all that much in common. Up until a few months ago, in fact, they’d never even met.

But they’ve since learned they share a love for pizza, puppies, cars and more; and they’ve written a book together, focused primarily on their favorite things.

Maki and Luke are writing buddies, brought together by an unusual program that pairs community volunteers with young elementary school students for one-on-one writing practice.

Robbie and Tony Fanning brought the program to Montgomery at the beginning of the school year, after having run successful writing buddy programs in the Bay Area for 15 years.

Robbie Fanning said she was a little nervous about starting the program in Davis, worried that she wouldn’t find enough volunteers.

She needn’t have fretted — in no time, she had the 23 volunteers she needed for the 23 second-graders in teacher Amy Teaford’s class, plus three substitute volunteers. The adults ranged in age from their late 20s to mid-70s and included several retired teachers like Maki, as well as a retired nurse and a nursing student. A contingent of University Retirement Community residents participated as well.

“Davis really stepped up,” Fanning said. “We actually have a waiting list.”

The program began with a two-hour training session for the volunteers back in September, followed by four weekly writing sessions. The adults would be given their writing topics ahead of time, so they could bring their already written stories to each session. There they would read their stories aloud to their young buddies as a way to inspire them. Then the youngsters would write their stories.

“Some kids would struggle a little,” Fanning said, “so their mentor would write a sentence and then have the student write one.”

Others zipped right through their stories. And all enjoyed illustrating their work, though some of the adults approached the drawing with trepidation.

“But we told them they only had to draw as well as a second-grader,” Fanning said.

Story topics ranged from favorite foods to favorite places to favorite toys. For the latter, Maki wrote about a colorful kite she had as a child; Luke about a special truck. Turns out both of their favorite places were out in nature, while Maki’s favorite food was macaroni and cheese and Luke’s was pizza.

For Teaford, bring the writing buddies program into her classroom — and giving up that instruction time every week — was a leap of faith, Fanning said.

But Teaford says it was well worth it.

“The students really enjoyed spending time with their buddies,” she said. “And it’s really nice to have one-on-one tutors for their writing. I would definitely do it again.”

The program concluded at the end of October with a celebration and “publishing party,” after which all of the participants went home with a book containing their own work as well as their buddies’.

The books also included personal letters from the adult buddies to their students.

Maki used her letter to remind Luke that he could use drawing to inspire his writing.

“The drawings that went along with your stories filled the entire space and were radiantly colorful,” she wrote. “I think the drawings helped us to think of ideas and words to use in our stories.

“If you ever get stuck and don’t know what to write about, you might just start drawing and see where the lines and colors take you.”

Maki so enjoyed the experience she has already signed on for the next session, which will pair the volunteers with third-graders in teacher Marsha Raney’s class in January.

“I thought Robbie and Tony did an incredible job,” said Maki, who was motivated to sign up for the program in the first place, she said, because she missed working with kids.

She also wanted to give back to the community.

“And as a retired high school English teacher,” she said, “I’m glad we’re emphasizing writing.”

The program is looking for more adult volunteers for the next session. Volunteers must be at least 25 years old and fluent in English. They also should be able to hand-write a story and love sharing with children. To sign up or for more information, email mail@writingbuddies.org.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

.

News

Undocumented Student Center offers help to immigrants

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Rairdan supports more inquiry-based learning

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Katehi will address Rotarians on Monday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Mondavi Center hosts all-star lineup of classical, jazz, dance and more

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C3 | Gallery

 
Willett students sensitized to those who are different

By Maria Clayton | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Friends of the Library host biggest book sale of the year

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Give blood and get a free movie ticket

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
‘Edible City’ discussion planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

TSA bomb training may be noisy

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
AIM testing dates set this fall, winter

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

Tour Honey Bee Haven on Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Woodland City Cemetery tours planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
 
‘ADHD — Myth or Reality’ addressed at UCD talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UCD athletics have break-from-work entertainment for everyone

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: C5 | Gallery

Wetlands visitors may see ducks arriving

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Boy Scouts host family event in park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

How did the Aggies get their name?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C12

 
.

Forum

Hey, it’s free childcare …

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Will you open your heart, and your home?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
The right vote for education

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Just what Davis schools need

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Nolan’s a calm voice of reason

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

DHS girls tennis team tames Lions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil girls play dynamite pool defense

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis volleyballers finish strong at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Hard-working Blue Devil boys get a water polo win

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s fall as AL wild-card game lives up to its name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Legacy roundup: Milliennium takes Manteca tournament

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

AYSO roundup: Beans, Capay can’t shake each other in U19 play

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Alliance roundup: Los Azules, Italia win tourneys

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Real Salt Lake has too much for Republic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

From the ground up: Rediscovering classic cheesecake

By Ann Evans | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Leonard D. Blackford

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A8