Palmer Trinity junior Sara White is a member of the Junior Advisory Board of Big Buddy, Little Buddy organization, also known as Achieve Miami. It’s a program that helps elementary school kids improve their reading fluency and comprehension.
“We partner high school students with underprivileged elementary students,” she says.
The program is running at four elementary schools, Earlington Heights, Jesse J. McCrary, Jr., Goulds and Holmes.
As a board member, White works with other teens to promote ideas about the program and identify areas to continuously improve its effectiveness.
“At my school, there is a Big Buddy, Little Buddy Club,” she says.
She and her fellow club members go to Goulds Elementary every other Saturday to work with the students. White says she usually works with one of the second graders and but will sometimes read with an older child. While most teens work with the same Little Buddy, she works with a variety of students as she is a crowd favorite.
“Before we meet with all the Little Buddies, they are leveled on the books they read,” she says.
“You’ll choose a book appropriate to their reading level.”
The Little Buddy reads to her or another volunteer, and then they do a writing exercise.
“It helps them reflect on the book and what they like and what they didn’t like,” she says. “It also
helps them obtain a deeper appreciation for the reading.”
Then they have recess time where they can hang out and play, which helps the buddies develop a
“The program is only three years old,” she says. “There are a few Little Buddies who have
graduated and have become Big Buddies as well.”
At Palmer, White’s a tutor at the Center for Writing. Tutors need to be good writers and be particularly strong in grammar. They work with all students, from the youngest to the seniors. In fact, she recently helped a senior with a college essay.
She loves to write and is personally a big fan of poetry.
“I also like to write short stories as well,” she says.
Her work has been published in Palmer’s literary magazine and the newly relaunched school paper, The Falconer. She is applying to national writing summer camps which are held on
For fun, White rides horses in equestrian competitions. She’s been riding since she was nine and recently competed in the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. It’s one thing to compete in the shows, but she often wins championships at the competitions. If possible, she’d love to compete through college.
“My number one priority is academics,” she says. “Hopefully I’ll ride for whichever college I attend.”
Back at school, she’s also a peer counselor. As a peer counselor she helps students resolve issues such as bullying and how to handle arguments and misunderstandings between friends. She’s also on the school’s diversity council.
“We help run the Mosaic program at my school,” she says. “Each person is assigned an advisory (homeroom) and once or twice a month we will present different topics.”
Those topics include hot button issues such as athletes taking a knee during the national anthem.
“All the students didn’t necessarily agree but they were able to reach a respectful understanding of their own thoughts as compared to others’ different opinion,” White says.
Finally, White rounds out her activities playing goalie for the Palmer Trinity ladies’ lacrosse team. She enjoys the camaraderie, physical exercise and competing as a team.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld