Elementary students at Ladue Schools are learning that you don’t always need cutting-edge technology to communicate.
Students at the district’s four elementary schools are using pencil and paper to keep in touch with their tutors this school year thanks to the Postal Pals program.
It’s a national program organized by Oasis Tutoring that uses letter-writing to keep students and tutors connected, as tutors aren’t allowed to visit schools this year due to the pandemic.
Stacy Butz is the district representative for Oasis and the building representative at Old Bonhomme Elementary.
“Postal Pals improves students’ written expression by writing letters to a volunteer Oasis tutor,” Butz said.
“Plus, it brightens the tutors’ and students’ day when they receive a handwritten letter. This program has provided a way for our tutors to stay connected to our school community during this pandemic.”
Butz received training on how to incorporate the program in Ladue Schools, then shared what she had learned with each elementary school.
She works with the district’s other representatives – Rowena Coates at Conway, Sarah Schwartz at Reed, and Becky Jones at Spoede – along with Curriculum and Instruction Administrative Assistant Fern Wagstaff to facilitate the program in Ladue Schools.
Tutors wrote their first letter in October; the letters are sent to each building’s representative, who then delivers them to students.
The students write their reply, which is given back to the building rep and mailed to the tutor.
Currently, 20 tutors and 26 students, both virtual and in-person learners, are participating in the program.
Students are provided with different templates that help guide their letter-writing; they often write about their families, hobbies, favorite animals and school subjects, and books they have read.
“Even though reading and writing are the main focus of the Oasis program, building relationships has proven to increase students’ self-esteem,” Butz said.
“We are grateful for their (the tutors’) time and the energy they put into building relationships with our students.”
Butz also said there is an opportunity for even more students to join the program as the year goes on, along with the opportunity for tutors to serve as virtual guest readers for classrooms.