Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kids Build Bridge to Inner City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kids Build Bridge to Inner City

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- A group of Fletcher High School students

is working to build their own bridge to the 21st century through

links close to home.

English teacher Maureen McCullough devised the program, dubbed

LifeToucher Net, that pairs some of her students with

fourthgraders from John E. Ford Elementary to help them with

their writing skills.

"They didn't want to be tutors, they didn't want to be

teachers. They wanted to be life touchers," McCullough said of

her students.

Talking with fellow teacher John James about what can be done

for students in innercity schools -- especially those like John

E. Ford that remain on the state's critically low-performing

list -- they decided to group high schoolers with elementary

students.

Thursday, face painters in Fletcher's courtyard streamed red

hearts, black Nike symbols and white stars on the cheeks of the

elementary school children who visited their "buddies" at the

Beaches.

"Kids relate to other kids," McCullough said. "This is a chance

for them to meet each other. Maybe they [teenagers] can get the

point across better and motivate them."

"If this would help us get off the [state] list, then it's just

another tool we've used," James said about John E. Ford, where

he teaches fourth grade.

James said he and McCullough set up many goals for the program,

such as motivating the fourthgraders to stay in school,

promoting the interaction among the students and improving the

students' scores on the Florida Writes test, one of the

measuring devices used by the state.

"We're one county, but it seems like two different worlds,"

McCullough said. "This involves the worlds meeting, sharing."

The 11th-grade students have taken the Florida Writes test and

are studying its grading system to monitor how the elementary

children rate and to help their partners perform well the next

time around. …

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