Return to Headlines

VIDEO: New and experienced Cordova readers benefit from unique partnership

Video and story by Sydney Northcutt, FCUSD Communications Internship Program
The unlikeliest of friendships are blossoming in Room 13. Students are playing the role of teacher and engaging students a decade younger than them. Every Friday Cordova High School teacher Suzanne Borth walks across the street with her second period English intervention class to Cordova Gardens Elementary School. For about half an hour, her students get the opportunity to read to elementary students.
The benefit for both parties is mutual. Ninth and tenth grade students enrolled in Borth’s intervention classes are struggling readers, so the opportunity to practice their reading skills in a fun and relaxed environment is valuable.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen is their increase in confidence,” says Borth, “I also have noticed that they are teaching reading when they read now. . . I see them pointing out sight words and having kids sound them out and having kids use visual literacy to predict what’s happening in the story.”
Ninth grader Keith Ferrell agrees that he has noticed positive differences in his reading because of the program. “I just like reading to people. . . It gets your boost of confidence up,” said Ferrell.
The elementary students, who vary from grade to grade each week, are all at different levels of their reading development. Some enjoy reading chapter books, such as third grader Donavan Branch, while others are working on their sight word skills. Third grader Danica Chambers likes learning new vocabulary from her high school friends.
“If I don’t know what a big word is they can help me spell it out and tell me what it is,” Chambers said.
Kristi Zampieri, Intervention Specialist at Cordova Gardens, was the link between the high school and the elementary school. After Zampieri and Borth met at a coaching meeting and Borth proposed the idea of bringing her kids to read at the elementary school, Zampieri jumped on board and quickly had a schedule in place.
Zampieri recognized the benefit of the elementary students getting a personal reading session. She said, “By having those teenagers come over and reading with them one on one versus with the whole class it just creates a bond between the kids that they look forward to.”