- by Mount Saint Mary College
Mount Saint Mary College teacher candidate Julianne Olinger of Sussex, N.J. works with a student in the Knight Lights Reading Buddies after school program at the Newburgh Free Library. The program will run every week on Tuesday until December 6 and all ch

Tuesdays just got a little brighter for local kids: From now until December 6, Mount Saint Mary College’s Knight Lights Reading Buddies program will offer literacy support for children each Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Newburgh Free Library.

The program is free and open to all local children. Drop-ins are welcome. Newburgh Free Library is located at 124 Grand St. in Newburgh, N.Y. 

Knight Lights provides reading practice and help for young readers who are developing their fluency, comprehension, and love of reading. Each child will be paired with Mount teacher candidate mentors to choose books, read, and have book conversations for 15-minute sessions or more, if no children are waiting. 

About 40 childhood teacher candidates from the Mount are participating in the Knight Lights program this semester. The students are part of either the English Language Arts or Literacy Methods classes at the college, taught by longtime Education professors Janine Bixler and Rebecca Norman, respectively.  

The program is great for both the local community and the students of Mount Saint Mary College, said Bixler.

“Children benefit from working with additional reading models and to become more acquainted with their public library,” she noted. “The program [also] provides an opportunity for our teacher candidates to work in the community, to gain experience with supporting children’s lifelong reading, and to learn the benefits of collaborating with community libraries and librarians.” 

Norman echoed Bixler’s sentiments: “As a parent, I love Knight Lights because it gives my children a chance to engage in reading with people who are not their parents or teachers,” she explained. “As an educator, I love Knight Lights because it gives our teacher candidates an opportunity to read with children for fun. Knight Lights is a win-win for everybody!”

Knight Lights Reading Buddies began as a remote program during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like its in-person counterpart, the aim was to create reading for pleasure opportunities for young students supported by Mount teacher candidates as reading mentors. 

“This is the first semester we are doing the program in the Newburgh Library, where we have more access to books, can enjoy face-to-face interactions, and still have access the library’s online resources,” Bixler added.


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