The Reading Army At St Paul’s Catholic Primary School, it is not unusual to see uniforms, but since 2013 it is not unusual to see more khaki and camouflage in the school grounds as the school has formed a partnership with Army to assist children with reading.
The “Reading Army” is a fairly simple concept, whereby soldiers come to the school for two hours each week to help teachers during the Junior Literacy block. Soldiers can be seen reading with and to children, helping them with their writing and spelling, playing games and assisting in other activities such as sports.
The school approached Army to form this partnership for a number of reasons. Firstly, classes can always use extra support, so having an organization that has a large numbers of employees close by made an obvious partnership possibility. Secondly, armies, like schools, work on timetables, and for a program like this to work we needed regular volunteers at regular times.
Additionally, Darwin schools have many families that work in the Armed Services and the school saw this as a way of supporting students who may have a parent serving overseas. By regularly seeing other soldiers in uniform, it might make it a bit easier for a student missing a mum or a dad who is serving overseas.
Since the beginning of the program, the soldiers have become a welcome part of the school. They attend assemblies, have taken part in Easter hat parades, gone on excursion and attended some of our religious ceremonies. The soldiers assist on a volunteer basis, and appear to enjoy doing something a bit different from their normal duties. Some obviously enjoy working with children, and many have small children themselves and the program gives them an insight into how schools operate.
For the school, this program has been a real success. Our classrooms have an extra helper, and seeing soldiers in the rooms is highly motivating for our students. The program also works simply because it is a great opportunity to have a group of highly motivated and positive people come into our workplace each week – and that is just great for our community.
Article supplied by Anthony Hockey, School Principal.