For some kids, struggling to read in school can lead to a life-long insecurity when it comes to picking up a book. But a group of residents at the Brickstone by St. John’s wanted to give back to their community, and found just the way to do that with the students at James P. Duffy School #12 who need a little extra time learning to read. They’re getting just as much back from the students they work with. 

The students who’ve previously struggled with reading are now making big strides at School #12. 

Dr. Jennifer Gkourlias, the Principal there says, “It’s just wonderful to see the joy of children in learning. 

The kindergarten, first and second graders strive to be better readers and enjoy the books they so enjoy. 

“There are funny books and cool books,” says 2nd grader Isaiah Foreman. 

Kids like Isaiah have gotten the assistance of new friends. 

“We live in our community and this is simply giving back to our community,” says Jack Maniloff, a resident at Brickstone by St. John’s.

Maniloff is one of the many volunteers from St. John’s. They spend 10 weeks each semester working with the kids. 

“The students feel so special. They’re valued and cared for. I also see them increasing in their confidence. They look forward to the visits,” Gkorlias says. “I think having the inter-generational support is very powerful and meaningful.”

Maniloff adds, “Our experience has been the kids are great. They really want to read and they seem to enjoy having someone to read to.”

That’s a sentiment kids like Isaiah echo, “All the noise in the class, I can read more quietly and be more focused.”

School officials say that after about a month of working with the volunteers, they see a marked improvement for the kids. 

Isaiah has notice it too saying, “It helps me read a lot better and makes me get stronger at reading.”

And while they’re helping the kids, the volunteers say it’s a symbiotic relationship. They get to remain active in the community they love and spend time with kids. 

“It’s an upper, for all of us,” Maniloff says.