The Honors College’s Kate Henderson works with a Smokey Mountain Elementary student. Reading and related activities may be with a classroom, small groups or one-on-one.

Students from Western Carolina University’s Honors College have continued their “Book Buddies” volunteer project with students at Smokey Mountain Elementary School in Whittier this spring semester, and it continues to be popular and beneficial for all involved, participants say.

At the Jackson County school, not far from the Qualla Boundary, the Honors College students read to the elementary school students on a regular basis as schedules allow, sometimes to a classroom or a small group and sometimes as a one-on-one activity. Coordination is handled by Honors College students with elementary school teachers, who also pick out appropriate reading material.

“I know the benefits of students having books read to them from an early age,” said Ally Bevers, an Honors College student from Mount Airy, Georgia. She spoke from personal experience, saying she was fortunate to have a caring teacher who took time normally allotted for recess to stay inside, read and explain the words to her, and encourage her to read to her classmates, all of which Bevers said gave her a boost in confidence and reading and writing abilities.

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Originally published May 6, 2019.

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