By Caleb Mynatt, The Belton Journal
In the Belton Independent School District (BISD), students are held to a very high standard. Whether it’s AP Calculus or learning that the letter D follows C in the alphabet, students work resiliently day in and day out to get the education they need to prepare themselves for the future. Some students struggle, however, especially at the elementary level, when it is very important to lay the framework for the rest of their education. Luckily at Chisholm Trail Elementary School, a determined group of volunteers, led by Dr. Rosie Montgomery, are helping students with reading and writing in an organization they call Clipboard Buddies.
“Dr. Montgomery preciously volunteered to help our campus with students who maybe needed a little bit of extra attention or push toward raising their reading level,” said Cindy Petter, the school counselor at Chisholm Trail Elementary School. “She gathered up some friends and some volunteers to came help mentor our students.”
Clipboard Buddies, a new first year organization, helps mentor students of all elementary grade levels, kindergarten through fifth grade. With the goal of igniting a love for learning and an increasing the reading level of students, the Clipboard Buddies use the help of volunteers to not only increase the children’s grades but also make a relationship with them.
“It takes passion to work with kids. What we’re asking our volunteers is ‘Can you give us at least one hour every week?’ But some of our volunteers are staying a whole morning and working with kids from different grade levels,” says Dr. Montgomery, a former BISD Board of Trustees member and founder of the Clipboard Buddies. “It’s an every day of the week thing, so come whatever day you can.”
With the help of great teachers and volunteers, the Clipboard Buddies currently help 30 students, but they don’t plan to stop there. Though this organization only exists currently at Chisholm Trail Elementary, there is a framework and hope to get it to spread to other campuses. The program provides a way for the community to get involved with the students and the school district, and many hope this will attract the general public to get involved with their students’ education.
“The dream would be to have Clipboard Buddies at every school in the school district, not just at Chisholm Trail,” said Dr. Montgomery. “This is a great way to help our teachers who work so hard. We are a supplement that helps reinforce their hard work.”
Not only do the Clipboard Buddies work hard to teach the students to read and write, but they also give more than just knowledge and wisdom.
“We ask each of our volunteers to bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to give to the community and school programs because students can’t learn if they’re hungry,” says Dr. Montgomery. “Being a mom who was always at the elementary school and a former member of the school board, I’ve been able to see the need in our schools, especially since the district is growing so fast. This would be a neat opportunity to start something new.”
“The really cool thing is that, though I’ve only been here for two weeks, the kids love seeing the parents and the volunteers,” said Monica Hernandez. “Every time someone comes they ask, ‘Are you going to come back next week?’ They’re really getting to connect with us volunteers, and that’s really sweet. The Clipboard Buddies do a lot of good.”
The Clipboard Buddies offer educational and emotional enrichment to not only the kids, but also the mentors.
“The really interesting thing is that by the end of the day and overall time with the kids, they’ve taught you more than you’ve taught them. They’ve taught you about themselves and what they’re going through, and you get to see the mind and growth of the children. It’s a really great thing for both the kids and the adults,” said Dr. Frank Perez-Guerra.
To learn more about or get involved with the Clipboard Buddies, contact Cindy Petter at Cindy.Petter@bisd.net or Dr. Rosie Montgomery at (254) 493-1076.