One of the pillars of the Brawerman Elementary School experience is the joy of partnering with “buddies” in younger grades. For years, logistics left students in Grade 3 out in the cold. At Brawerman West, Kindergarten goes with Grade 6, Grade 1 with Grade 5, and Grade 2 with Grade 4. Over on the East campus, Kindergarten buddies with Grade 4, Grade 1 goes with Grade 5, and Grade 2 is paired with Grade 6. Whichever way you pair the grade levels, Grade 3 always got left out—until now. Both Brawerman campuses now partner with the Early Childhood Centers (ECC) to fill this gap, pairing Grade 3 students with early childhood buddies.
Last year, Brawerman West third-graders had three opportunities to gather with their ECC buddies, including a playful meet and greet with a photo booth, P.E. games in the Brawerman gym, and a reading activity. This year, the program is ramping up, with plans for a buddy activity once a month. Special experiences might include a combined musical Kabbalat Shabbat service led by Jason Mesches, a reading activity, a dreidel competition during Chanukah, a Tu BiSh’vat seder, and activities that explore math and science together. Lee Tenerowicz, Grade 3 Brawerman teacher, applauded the buddy program’s successful impact on her students. “The third-graders absolutely love having their own younger buddies,” Tenerowicz said. “It gives them a chance to demonstrate maturity and menschkeit.”
Over at the Glazer Campus, Grade 3 students came together monthly last year with DK/TK ECC students in different specialized classes. It began with introductions in the library, a read aloud, and buddies splitting off to read in pairs. By the next meeting, younger and older buddies couldn’t wait to see one another as they began exploring the elementary school, visiting music, art, Hebrew, science, and innovation specialists.
ECC and Brawerman teachers and specialists put in time to create thoughtful connections between students and age-appropriate projects. The result is a genuine connection manifested in smiles and shouts from younger buddies on the ECC yard as they admiringly wave to their older buddies. A wonderful success in its first year, the program will continue with exciting activities for buddies in 2019–20, further strengthening the connection between Brawerman and the ECC.