Friday, August 29, 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

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics