By Mitchell Clarke
The Smith Family has recognised students at Beaconhills College for their work in helping other students across Victoria to improve their literacy skills.
Student2student’ is a Smith Family initiative which is a peer-to-peer reading program for students in Year 3-8.
Victorian students are matched with other students who are behind in their reading skills.
There are currently 35 students at Beaconhills across both Pakenham and Berwick campuses which take part in the program.
Year 8 student Ava Cashmore currently volunteers her time as a ’reading buddy’, spending about half an hour reading with a student called Nora twice a week.
“I’ve always loved reading, and it made me sad that other people couldn’t enjoy it like I do,“ Ava said.
“It makes me feel really good when I notice she’s made improvements.
“I really enjoy being a part of this program.”
Smith Family’s General Manager in Victoria Anton Leschen said that reading skills are critical for a child to engage in learning.
“The program’s power lies in the fact that it connects young people who are passionate and eager to make a difference with other students in the community in need of extra reading help and assistance,“ Mr Leschen said.
“Student2student is based on research that shows peer support is critical to improving a child’s reading skills.“
A recent review showed positive changes, with 96 per cent of students who participated in the program improving their ability, while 90 per cent reported they found reading more enjoyable.
Beaconhills College Head of Citizenship and Service Claire Tuohy said this program provides an opportunity for future success stories.
“This is an opportunity for our students to interact with other students and do something good and kind to help them with the rest of their lives,“ Ms Tuohy said.
“We know education is a key to future possibilities, so giving our students the opportunity to being a part of a success story of a child somewhere in Victoria, who might not have had that success had they not partnered with Ava.“
The program is currently in its second year at the school with each reading cycle lasting for 18 weeks.
“Really good community service is about Ava and other students giving and not getting anything back, except for an inner feeling that they’re doing something really great,“ Ms Tuohy said.
“It’s about having a greater insight into the needs of other people who perhaps are not as privileged as we are.
“I think it’s certainly opened Ava’s eyes as well as many other students.“