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Classroom Grandparents in DC Provide Support, Gain Purpose

Classroom Grandparents in DC Provide Support, Gain Purpose

In this Sept. 8, 2016, photo, second-grade student Samantha Leisse, 7, left, gets some one-on-one time with foster grandmother Mollie Decker, while fellow foster grandmother Mary Hoke helps second-grader Karley Weiser, 7, at Beck Elementary School in Sunbury, Pa. (Robert Inglis/The Daily Item via AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 30 October 2018 10:56 AM

Classroom grandparents serve as "role models, mentors, and friends" to children in need, with over 200 Washington, D.C. seniors working in the city's schools alone, but the program benefits the retirees as much as the youth, participants told The Washington Post this week.

Cynthia Brown-Thomas, a 64-year-old retiree, receives $2.65 an hour to work with first- and second-graders at Wheatley Education Campus.

However, it is not the meager pay that keeps her coming back to the classroom each day. She explained that the role of mentor gave her a purpose in life and kept her alive.

Shenora Plenty, principal at Wheatley Education Campus, said the concept of classroom grandparents was cruicial to her school's success.

"They literally are grandparents, so they assume that role when they walk into the classroom," Plenty told The Washington Post. "It really reminds the children of their grandparents."

The Foster Grandparent Program was created to offer seniors an opportunity to stay active and engaged in retirement by lending a helping hand to children in the community.

Through the program, volunteers can either help children learn to read through tutoring, mentor "troubled teens," or help care for children with disabilities or those who have been abused and neglected.

A small stipend is given to these foster grandparents, but it is not enough to threaten their ability to qualify for government benefits.

According to Senior Corps, the program "leads to new discoveries and new friends," and promotes a positive outlook through volunteering opportunities.

Cheryl Christmas, director of the United Planning Organization's grandparent program, told The Washington Post that the initiative kept retirees connected and plugged in to their communities.

"We're wrapping our arms around them," Christmas said. "It's an outgrowth of how we used to treat teachers — like preachers."

Cassandra Reid, also a foster grandparent agreed.

"When I walk through the hall and the kids run up to me and call me grandma, it's a big balloon of joy," she said.

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Classroom grandparents serve as role models to children in need, with over 200 Washington, D.C. seniors working in the city's schools alone, but the program benefits the retirees as much as the youth.
classroom, grandparents, dc, foster
326
2018-56-30
Tuesday, 30 October 2018 10:56 AM
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