Enbridge Gas New Brunswick and Frontier College have partnered to create a successful reading program at Nashwaaksis Memorial School.
Eleven volunteers from Enbridge Gas New Brunswick devote two hours a week of company time to what they have called The Reading Buddies Program. Lauren Nicholson, Communications Coordinator at Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, acts as the in-house coordinator for this initiative. She explains that this program enables employees to get active in their community and make a difference.
“This opportunity has allowed for a variety of different employees - those with kids, those without, those who may even be grandparents - to relive the joys of reading and teaching children to read,” she said.
“As the coordinator of the program, I’m lucky to be able to speak with every employee about their experience and each one has been extremely positive.”
The Reading Buddies program was first developed from a similar program where AMEC staff and volunteers worked with Park Street School students.
Greg Gillis, Senior VP, with AMEC shared the model, tips and success stories with Frontier College with a goal of getting other companies on board.
“I’m very excited that our business-school model is being used elsewhere in the city,” he said. “We wanted to do something in the community to help increase literacy scores.”
Gillis is concerned that New Brunswick’s low literacy skills are deterring some prospective employees from moving to this province.
Using the original model set out by AMEC, staff at Frontier College have been training and supporting Enbridge Gas New Brunswick employees to help them be able to teach and work with Kindergarten and Grade 1 students in learning the basics of literacy and numeracy.
Jackie Hay, principal of Nashwaaksis Memorial School, says that the teachers are very excited to have this extra help during class time.
“The children love having individual support. I have found that the children are making progress because they have someone to immediately reinforce their learning. Having the tutors has allowed me to meet the needs of my students who need extra support,” one teacher at Nashwaaksis Memorial School offered.
For Frontier College, a non-profit literacy organization, this was seen as a great opportunity to expand its volunteer base and create new partnerships in the community.
“We’re always trying to find new program models to help the people in our community,” says Janette Desharnais, New Brunswick Regional Coordinator. “I was very excited about helping set up this program for children at this very crucial learning time. Research shows that children who don’t grasp the “reading code” in the first years of school really struggle when the teachers move from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’.”
Nicholson adds that she is excited at the prospect of other companies around the province getting involved in a program like this.
“I really feel the employees and the communities in which they live could really benefit from this type of program. It’s great to give back.”
Frontier College is also very excited about the prospect to work with other offices to set up this type of program.
“We’re putting a call out to other companies in New Brunswick who would like to give their employees the opportunity to volunteer in a local school,” says Desharnais.
For more information, or to find out how your company can get involved in similar programs please contact Frontier College.