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Older Adults Improve Elementary School Outcomes


September 5, 2019

For teachers, children and families everywhere, the last few weeks have meant getting back into the rhythm of a new school year. Also, it has been a time of excitement for many older adults in our community as Senior Resources’ Foster Grandparent Program kicks off another year in our local schools, ready to improve literacy outcomes for elementary students.

The Foster Grandparent Program provides adults over the age of 55 with the opportunity to help in our neighborhood schools. These Foster Grandparents provide classroom support to elementary teachers to improve literacy skills and to provide that little extra attention that a student may need to grow. It is a much needed support, as data shows that 60% of all fourth graders in our local schools are not reading at grade level.

Last year, our Foster Grandparents improved the literacy skills of 87% of the students they served over the course of the year. The 94 Foster Grandparents served more than 1,000 students in 28 schools in our community to build literacy skills and support teachers in the classroom. These volunteers provided more than 73,000 hours of specialized service at no cost to the school or the school district.

One of the star volunteers is Ms. Lillie Anderson. “Grandma Anderson” has served as a Foster Grandparent for 16 years. She is a retired teacher, 76 years young, and volunteers 25 hours a week at Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary. Her support is valued by her teacher who says, “The warmth, patience and support Grandma Anderson provides is vital and necessary. The students are overjoyed when she enters the room each day. She offers wisdom from her years of classroom experience. She is calm in the midst of the storm.”

As evidenced by this program, older adults provide a talented asset for our community if given the opportunity. Our schools, businesses, civic and religious organizations have a great opportunity to utilize talented, passionate adults who are ready to make a difference. And it is a win-win situation, because not only does the community benefit but so do seniors.

When surveyed about their experience as Foster Grandparents, 95% of volunteers report that their quality of life has improved since beginning their service. Feeling valued and making a difference adds joy to life, boosts vitality, and creates an environment for seniors to thrive for years to come.

So as the school year rolls along, celebrate the success that this inter-generational program brings to both the young children and older adults in our community. And let us also continue to look for ways to utilize older adults for the benefit of all in our community.

-Andrew Boozer, Executive Director

Donations to Senior Resources provide the support necessary to offer services like the Foster Grandparent Program. Will you consider making a recurring, monthly gift today of $25 or more to support this work?

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