Miranda Starr, principal and teacher at Parkersburg Academy in West Virginia, wanted to do an experiment with her first and second grade students.
In Bible class, we were studying about kindness, and how it is contagious, she says.
We wanted to see if it really works.
Then Miranda had an idea–why not go to Eagle Pointe, a local nursing home,
where the students could practice their reading skills and make friends with the residents?
This was something I had always wanted to do, she admits.
We like to sing, but [I wondered] what else could we do for them, to make relationships?
The idea was a hit, and by January the students were reading well enough to read on their own.
We go to Eagle Pointe every other Friday, explains eight-year-old Ben.
We sing to the whole group, and we read to our partners.
It wasn’t hard to pick our partners, chimes in Reagan, 7.
We saw them, looked at their faces, and then chose one because we liked them!
The students also get to choose the book or books that they want to read to their partner, and are welcome to exchange books with other students if they finish their own.
As the students read, they are also developing friendships.
My partner’s name is Miss Jane, says Sophia, 6.
I was reading about animal tracks, and I read about a red fox. She told me that she once had a red fox as a pet!
The residents clearly enjoy the visits and comment on what good readers the students are.
I like seeing my partner smile, Ben adds.
The students in grades 3 to 8 also participate.
I really like going there, says Ryleigh, 9.
There’s one man I read to–Mark. He’s always happy to see me, and says,
God loves you. I really like him and wish we could go more often.
In appreciation of the students’ visits, Eagle Pointe held a banquet in their honor, and presented Miranda Starr with an award plaque:
Junior Volunteers of the Year–Parkersburg Academy. You’ve warmed the hearts of many by the caring that you show. Volunteers are Shining Stars.
Reflecting on their
kindness experiment, Miranda knows it was a success.
Kindness did come back. We tried to give them joy, but they gave more to us.