Becoming Strongwell Reading Buddies

Recently the principal of Anderson Elementary School, Andrew Brown was invited to speak on behalf of the Reading Buddies Program during Strongwell’s Annual United Way of Bristol employee campaign kickoff.

The program is a collaborative partnership amongst Bristol Virginia Public Schools, Bristol Tennessee City Schools, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Bristol’s Promise, and United Way of Bristol. One of the long term strategic goals for the school systems’ initiatives is to propel everyone onto a 3rd grade reading level. Studies have shown that students from kindergarten to third grade students are learning to read and then begin the transition to comprehension and analysis. Principal Brown conveyed hardship experiences from different student socio-economic statuses which attracted two Strongwell employees to participate in the community cause.



Rodney Banks

Rodney Banks (Structural Detailer/Checker-Bristol) has been paired with a reading buddy for over a month. A personal experience motivated him to join this cause because his grandmother was his constant reading buddy. Her constant influence and mentorship provided him with a 7th grade reading comprehension level by the first grade. Rodney felt that this was his opportunity to give back.

Josh Goulds

Josh Goulds

Josh Goulds (Estimator-Bristol) was also drawn to this cause immediately because he wanted to give back. Within a few months, he has gained three reading buddies and recruited his wife to join the program. He usually bonds with his reading buddies through reading, mentoring and teaching his buddies to play chess.

Each of the Strongwell employees have been committing 30 minute weekly sessions to Anderson Elementary. They have each complimented on how the program has offered them a better overall understanding of how positive mentorships within education directly impacts our community.

Click here to learn more or volunteer with the program.