Logan Isenhart was looking pretty comfortable — a natural, in fact, as she cheerily meandered through the kindergarten classroom offering praise, encouragement and tips on how to spell one word or another.
Logan's task that day was to help the kindergarteners learn the importance of spreading joy to others by creating colorful holiday cards to be delivered to military veterans and troops serving overseas.
"I love being here," Logan said. "It's so enjoyable, and any time I get to work with kids it's such a good experience."
That's the point behind the newly formed Book Buddies program, an effort that matches Mitchell High students with primary students at nearby Trinity Elementary.
Logan, 18, is one of 10 students enrolled in a leadership skills and exploratory teaching class at Mitchell.
The class is geared toward high school students who might want to go into the field of education, said Mitchell teacher Stephanie Bombei. The class is also beneficial for students like Logan, who hopes to become a pediatric nurse.
The Book Buddies program came about this year after Bombei's students held a brainstorming session to come up with ways they could participate in a service learning activity.
Bombei contacted Trinity Elementary principal Kathryn Rushe, who realized the benefits these visits could bring and was quick to jump on board.
"This is fantastic," said Rushe, who paid a visit to the kindergarten classroom while students were working on their holiday cards. "They really work well together. The kids remember them from their last visit and look forward to them coming. They have a really good time. They enjoy it and, who knows — they might turn out some new educators."
Once a month, Mitchell students will continue to make the trek to the elementary school to oversee activities with four classrooms of students in kindergarten through second grade. Last week's lesson started out with the older students reading holiday books. Then the crayons and markers came out so students could decorate the cards to be distributed through the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
"It's really wonderful," said kindergarten teacher Nikki Lijewski. "They really work well together."
"I love it. I love spreading joy through the kids," said Steven Swendsen, 17, as he sat at a low table helping 5-year-olds Alexander Jeffries, Elena Ta and Jiatao Zhang with their notes. Steven, who will graduate in May, hopes to be accepted into the Coast Guard Academy, but he hasn't ruled out teaching.
"I'm thinking I might teach JROTC after I get out" of the Coast Guard, he said.
The kindergarten students finished off their activity by gathering on the floor in the classroom reading spot with Logan to sing verses of Frosty the Snowman.
Then it was time to say goodbye, and of course, exchange hugs.
"I'll be back next time and I'll spend time with you," Steven told Alexander, who like many of the youngsters, was reluctant to see the older students depart.
"I miss Logan already," said a pouting Olivia Duquette, 5, as she lined up with the rest of her classmates to go to lunch in the cafeteria. "I love her."