St. Bernard Bears 2 Cubs Literacy Program

At St. Bernard School, a unique literacy program is making a big impact. Bears 2 Cubs pairs eighth-grade students with kindergarteners to enhance their reading skills and foster a love for books.

The program, now in its sixth year, operates weekly during the school year. Eighth-grade students in the National Junior Honor Society are assigned to work one-on-one with a kindergartener, providing personalized attention and guidance. The focus is on recognizing letter names, letter sounds, and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. It also has a special emphasis on reading sentences and progressing to decodable books.

Together they find a space throughout the school to work on specific literary goals. Much of the learning is done through hands-on activities and manipulatives such as board games and foam letters. This makes the learning exciting for everyone involved.

“Our goal is to create a positive reading experience for both the eighth graders and the kindergarteners,” says Mrs. Amanda Boeke, a kindergarten teacher. “The older students not only help the younger ones with their reading skills but also serve as role models and mentors.”

“I love this program because it provides a great opportunity for collaboration among our students. I believe that not only are the younger students learning, but the older students are learning how to teach and encourage,” says Mrs. Amy Robinson, reading interventionist. “I can see how the students I work with improve each week due to this program.”

The impact of Bears 2 Cubs extends beyond improved literacy skills. Many of the eighth graders report increased confidence in their own reading abilities, while the kindergarteners develop a sense of excitement and accomplishment as they progress through the program.

“I love getting to help my reading buddy every week. It’s rewarding to see how excited they get when they can read a new word or sentence,” said Harper, an 8th-grader.

For the kindergarteners, the benefits are clear. “I like reading with my buddy,” says Isaac, a kindergartener. “He helps me read big words! It is fun!”

The Bears 2 Cubs program has been praised by parents, teachers, and students alike for its innovative approach to literacy education. By pairing older students with younger ones, Bears 2 Cubs not only improves reading skills but also builds relationships and a sense of community within the schools.

As the program continues to grow, its impact on both the eighth-grade volunteers and the kindergarteners is undeniable. Bears 2 Cubs is not just about teaching reading—it’s about fostering a love for reading that will last a lifetime.

St. Bernard Catholic School is part of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) School System. It is a private Catholic school serving Preschool and Elementary through 8th grade (PK3-8) with open enrollment. St. Bernard’s provides an individualized education in a faith-based environment. Each child is supported not only academically, but spiritually.