SOMERS, N.Y. – For second graders at Primrose School, the only thing better than receiving letters in class is working at the Wee Deliver Post Office that delivers them.
A beloved tradition, the Wee Deliver Post Office was started years ago by second grade teachers to integrate lessons about community life with letter writing—and give the school’s “big kids” a taste of the responsibility that comes with jobs.
A lot has changed since then: letters have largely given way to emails, leaving today’s children with fewer opportunities outside of school to write letters and address envelopes—skills they will still need as adults. What hasn’t changed, however, is the pride that Primrose second graders feel when it’s their turn to work at the Post Office.
“It’s such a unique program, and the kids remember it for years after leaving Primrose,” said Gale Weiner, a longtime teaching assistant who coordinates the Post Office. “The kids still love working at the Post Office, and they take pride in doing their jobs well.”
Teacher Susan Compo, who had run the program with Weiner for many years, said it remains a “right of passage” for the second graders.
The program begins in the fall when students “apply” for jobs as postmaster, letter carriers and sorters. After filling out a short application where they explain why they would be good at the position they are seeking, students participate in a short job interview with a district administrator or teacher.
“It is their first job interview at age 7,” Compo said.
Once the Post Office officially opens in November with a grade-wide ceremony, the students take two-week turns during recess collecting, sorting and delivering mail to the school’s classrooms—which all have their own addresses linked to the town’s circus history.
On a recent day, a group of second graders burst into the Post Office ready to get to work. The letters waiting for them come from throughout the building. Ms. Weiner writes each student in the building four times a year, often including a little puzzle or word game. Principal Katie Winter writes to the students, too. Recently, she had sent a letter describing books she had loved as a child and asking students about their favorite books. Children send letters to their siblings or friends in other classes.
Second grader Claire Cronin said she loved her job sorting and cancelling letters because she sees “all the different mail and where it’s going to go.”
Classmates Reese Harney and Derek Kuchinsky said they liked walking around the school with their color-coded maps, finding where the letters should go.
“I get to kind of explore and visit teachers that I had before,” Derek explained, “and that’s cool and nice and fun.”
Keira Thomas, another mail carrier, said she also loved delivering the mail: “I like putting the letters in the class mailboxes because I know everyone will be really excited to get their mail.”
Hudson Ruby said he liked being a carrier because “you get to work as part of a team.”
And soon, Hudson and his friends were doing just that. As they got down to business, several students took their places at a table to cancel mail with brightly colored pads and stampers. Others sorted letters into mail slots for delivery the next day. The letter carriers picked up their maps and bags of mail and went off in search of classroom addresses located in Big Top City, ABC City and Tuskertown.
Compo said one reason the Post Office ran smoothly was that Weiner ensured that the children felt special and understood that the whole school community valued their contributions. Another reason was that the children themselves took their jobs seriously and relished the opportunity to perform them independently.
“The Post Office provides students with opportunities to use reading, orienteering and other life skills,” Compo said. “When they’re in the Post Office or off with their partners looking for addresses and delivering mail, they’re doing their jobs without a lot of adult supervision.”
Or as second grader Matthew Adelmann put it: “I’m a mail sorter, and that’s a job that’s just like one at the Post Office. This makes you feel just like you’re working at the real Post Office.”
This article was provided by the Somers Central School District.