sophomore Robbie Persons took what he said was "not such an easy time" as an elementary student and made sure one younger peer did not have a similar experience this year.
"Over the summer, after my freshman year at Pleasantville High School, I came up with this program to make a difference. With the expectations of high school students skyrocketing, I knew I had to do something that would stand out," he told the Board of Education on June 12. "I wanted to go beyond with my service to the community. While brainstorming ideas to help out the Pleasantville community, I realized I could start my own program to help people like me."
According to Persons, "I have dyslexia and for the five years in , I struggled with almost all my work and felt very poorly about myself."
So, at the beginning of the school year, he met with BRS Principal Peggy Galotti and proposed the "Big Buddy Program."
Galotti "was just eager to start it as I was," he recalled. She connected him with fourth grader Nathaniel Dillon and the two met for an hour every Wednesday after school.
"I was really happy when I was told by Mrs. Galotti that I had been chosen to be part of this pilot program with Robbie as my mentor," Dillon said.
The pair first connected over similar interests and then developed an array of activities that ranged from doing homework to playing basketball to solving Hangman puzzles.
"As the year progressed, I noticed a change in Nathaniel. He was becoming more confident and diligent with his work," said Persons.
Additionally, Dillon said, "Since working with Robbie, my grades have gone up mostly in spelling and I feel better about my learning."
These tangible results were also rewarding for the mentor.
"I have enjoyed the satisfaction of helping someone who struggled like me succeed," Persons shared. "Also, I have hopefully created something that goes beyond me and my role in the Pleasantville school district."
Galotti said plans are already in motion to expand the program next year.
"I think we should continue this program, too," commented Lois Winkler, board president. "That is amazing and I congratulate both of you."
Said Dillon, "I think we should keep on doing this program with other kids because it helped me a lot and I think it can help other kids."