Sometimes in the darkest of times, we miss the silent blessings in the storm. Times have been tough and now we are in the midst of winter, so we nestle down in our homes, mostly unaware of the quiet blessings that are stirring. We turn on the television only to see strife and conflict, but there is unity and compassion, right in our own neighborhood. Now, usually unity and compassion goes unnoticed, uncelebrated. Here is a story of warmth and harmony, taking place in a common everyday classroom, between a teacher, a senior, and a classroom of kids.
Claire Waldmeyer, first grade teacher at Canton Elementary School writes, “It seems that every year more of my students need more support than I am able to offer. They need academic support, emotional support, and love. They need someone to listen to what is on their minds, they need someone to give them a smile and a hug, and they need to hear kind words and reassurance. They need more than one teacher can give. However, I do not have to worry about meeting all of their needs by myself because I have a Foster Grandparent by my side in the classroom.
“One of the wisest decisions I ever made as an educator was to request a Foster Grandparent for my first graders. My students and I were blessed to have Anita Evans assigned to us. For the last five years, she has been a kind, caring, comfort to my students. She has zipped coats, tied shoes, applied Band-Aids, and dried tears. She has drilled flashcards, read stories, checked spelling, and overseen corrections. She has played spelling sparkle, math games, spider races, and Candyland. She has checked papers, cleaned desks, delivered mail, and sorted Weekly Readers. She has shared morning greetings, baked cookies, dispensed wisdom, and touched hearts. She is an integral part of our classroom.
“This year, things have been different from past years. We do more cleaning and less hugging. Despite social distancing, Grandma manages to make sure the pupils know they are loved and that she cares about them. Three times we have had to spend a week teaching remotely. Anita came in to the school so that we could record ourselves reading a book to the students together. I think the students enjoyed watching that video as much as she and I enjoyed recording it for them.
“I have nothing but praise for the Foster Grandparent Program. My experience with it has been wonderful, and I recommend that any teacher who is given the opportunity to take part should do so. I thank all of the wonderful folks who go in to the schools and give of themselves for our children. They are a positive force in our classrooms.”
Anita Evans, Foster Grandparent in Claire Waldmeyer’s First Grade writes:
“The Foster Grandparent program enables me to have a useful purpose with my time and days to look forward to. It is a pleasure working with Miss Waldmeyer and the children in her class. It is rewarding to see the achievements and improvement in the children’s learning.
“During this time of COVID I miss the children being able to give hugs as I was accustomed to in past years. I’m greeted every morning with a hearty ‘Good morning Gramma’ and also a good-bye when I leave. It is a program very worthwhile for the children and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The Foster Grandparent Program can provide income eligible people, 55 years of age and older, the opportunity to serve in a local hometown classroom. The Foster Grandparent Program also provides Foster Grandparents with a small monetary stipend, transportation reimbursement, transportation (for people who don’t drive), paid time off, paid holidays, and rewarding experiences.
To Learn More about the Foster Grandparent Program, call (570) 265-6121 or toll free to 1-800-982-4346.
The Foster Grandparent Program is sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging for Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties.
For additional information on Area Agency on Aging services, call 1-800-982-4346.