Calling all GG’s: Eastern Elementary seeks volunteersPublished 8:36pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Eastern Elementary School teacher Susan Hill had a nagging idea to encourage more people to volunteer at her school.
“It was a teensy seed in my imagination that grew and grew and grew,” she said.
She enlisted the help of consultant and retired K-5 curriculum coordinator Pat Calfee and launched Grandparents Are Great, a volunteer program in which “grandparents” adopt a class and support it by reading, talking and playing with the students. The volunteers will be an additional set of hands for anything the teachers need or they are willing to do.
“I just want them to be assured that they are not going to do anything they’re uncomfortable with,” Calfee said. “It’s such a win-win situation because not only will the young folks benefit with their relationships with their “GG,” but the grandparent will benefit, too. It just makes you feel good to be out here with these kids.”
Calfee has already signed up for a class. She has told everyone who signed up that the program would make them feel young again and full of life. A lot of retired teachers have shown interest, but the children will benefit from anyone’s help, Calfee said.
“They’re like sponges. They just are learning so much every day and are so accepting of anyone who is willing to work with them,” she said.
Volunteers are not required to commit to a certain amount of time. Each volunteer will be paired with a teacher before the school year begins. If a volunteer has a specific class or grade in mind, he or she may request it.
The teacher and volunteer will decide what the volunteer will be doing and how often or how long the volunteer will be there.
Hill included hobbies on her application form, and said she would like to see volunteers introduce the children to some of their interests. So far, volunteer hobbies have included painting, reading, skating and quilting.
Eastern Elementary is one of only two schools in the state that exclusively serves pre-K, kindergarten and first grade, the perfect ages for building a relationship with a new “GG,” Hill said.
“When people come inside class, they just have a love for anybody.
Hill solicited volunteers from several local churches and hopes to find people who are a good representation of the area’s demographics, male, female, white, Latino and black. Despite the “GG” moniker, the volunteer program is for any age.
“At this age, they don’t know the difference,” she said.
Each volunteer must consent to a background check. Those interested in volunteering may sign up today or July 16-17 at Eastern Elementary School, 947 Hudnell St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Potential volunteers may also contact Hill at email@example.com or by calling the school at 946-1611.