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Book Buddies: A Special Partnership

The Steward School
Social connections through reading 
Student-to-student mentorship is a longstanding tradition at Steward — one that encourages meaningful connections in an environment of mutual care. At the beginning of each school year, for example, junior kindergarten and kindergarten students are paired with senior students and team up at school events throughout the year. Many form friendships that last well beyond their years at Steward. 

A new cross-divisional project at Steward recently brought together Middle Schoolers with their Lower School friends in a most delightful way: through books! 

At the beginning of the third marking period, Middle School students and Lower Schoolers in grades JK-3 met for cozy reading sessions in the Lower School classrooms and hallways. Organized by School Counselor Jentae Scott-Mayo and Health and Wellness Coordinator Kris Marchant, these Book Buddy meet-ups were a casual, fun way for students to relax and spend time together. It was also a vital part of Mrs. Mayo and Mrs. Marchant’s collaborative effort to focus on social-emotional learning and development in Lower and Middle School students. 

Authentic Connections
“This was a great way for Spartans to forge strong mentoring relationships,” said Mrs. Mayo. “Reading is an opportunity to slow down a bit, reflect, and just be together.” Middle Schoolers, she noted, take on leadership roles when they read to their younger friends, and everyone benefits from the communication and listening skills needed for good storytelling. “To bring the written word to life is to imagine and dream,” she said. “The wonder of books is made even richer when it’s a shared experience.”

Mrs. Marchant said, “One of the foundational components of social-emotional learning is practicing genuine, authentic social connections. This cross-divisional project is an essential part of our Health and Wellness curriculum because it adds a practical, intentional, and relevant component to increase and reinforce content mastery. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for everyone involved!”     

Story Time
Mrs. Scott-Mayo noted that some Middle Schoolers may feel a little bit outside of their comfort zones when they first meet up with their younger counterparts. 

“This project enables them to stretch their wings in a safe setting,” she explained. “It also encourages empathy. Lower School students benefit from seeing what life will be like as a Middle Schooler. Plus, they get to bond with an older student, which is such a confidence booster!” She added, “We never know what connections younger students may be seeking. Many times it is challenging for them to verbalize their need for connection, as these skills are still developing. Book Buddies meets this need in a fun, meaningful way.” 

Drew Swift ’28 said the project opened her eyes to “how amazing it is to see children look up to me the way I used to look up to older kids. I enjoyed answering their questions and bonding with them. I always stop to say ‘hi’ and give a hug to the little girl I read to. I loved this project and hope to do it again!”

When she read “Pinkalicious” to her Lower School friend, Reese Jones ’28 realized how much she loves reading to others. 

“I also enjoyed hearing their thoughts and views on life as a younger person,” she said. “The child that I read to was an extremely good listener and was very engaged with the book!” 

View the Steward Snaps from a Book Buddy session.


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The Steward School
11600 Gayton Road
Richmond, VA 23238

phone: (804) 740-3394
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