A group of eight Whittier High School students is connecting regularly with children at Sedalia 200 elementary schools and the Pettis County Early Childhood Cooperative.

The visits are part of the Whittier program known as SKILLS, Student Kindling Individuals Learning Leading Success, which helps foster positive relationships between the high school mentors and the elementary/co-op mentees. The Whittier students develop leadership skills while serving as positive role models for their younger peers.

On Monday, Nov. 4, the SKILLS team – Dalton Hermanson, Matthew Edgar, Shayda Dotson, Brooklyn Monteer, Austin Rickerson, Bryce Paxton, Kalie Hedglin, and Zoe Vinyard – visited Washington Elementary School to help fourth graders with sustained silent reading. The older students checked with the fourth graders on what books they were reading and asked questions about characters and plots to ensure the fourth graders understood what they were reading.

Washington fourth grade teacher Ryan Turner said the younger students get excited to talk with someone older and to hear why they like to come into the classroom to help. She added that her students like the change of pace of conferring with someone other than their classroom teacher.

Whittier teacher Jennie Guerrini, who oversees the program, said the experience allows her students to see that they can connect with others and help them, “whether it is reading, or flash cards, whatever the teacher wants their students to learn.”
The experience also is a positive addition to the students’ resumes.

“We try to get them to realize how important they are to other kids,” Guerrini said.

WhitterSKILLS1: Whittier High School student Brooklyn Monteer, left, asks fourth grader Alex Pedraza about the book he is reading, “Diary of a Pug,” on Monday, Nov. 4, at Washington Elementary School, as part of the SKILLS program.

WhittierSKILLS2: Washington Elementary fourth grader Korbin Asbury, left, tells Whittier student Dalton Hermanson about “Greek Heroes and Mythical Beasts,” the book he chose for his sustained silent reading.

Sedalia School District 200