The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 15, 2001 · Page 23
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 23

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 15, 2001
Page:
Page 23
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SUNDAY APRIL 15, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL ENGAGEMENTS / D2 MILESTONES / D4 CROSSWORD / D6 • LIFE STORIES Grandma Iva and Grandma Tillie help struggling students as they Reach Across LrENERATIONS Photos by TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal Joanna Barrlentes, 8, daughter of Norma and Manuel Barrientes, reads a book with Grandma Iva Farmer at Sunset Elementary School. Farmer Is one of four Sallnans participating In the Kansas Children's Service League's Foster Grandparent Program. Students, seniors benefit by sharing lives By SHARON MONTAGUE The Salina Journal The young Hispanic girl spoke not a word of English when she started second grade at Sunset Elementary School this fall. "She didn't know her colors. She was struggling to learn the alphabet," said Kendra McNeal, the school's Title I reading and math teacher. But these days, the girl can name objects in her classroom and reads at a first-grade level. Grandma Iva made all the difference. "Grandma Iva started with her in October or November, and within a month, she had her reciting the alphabet," McNeal said. "If it weren't for Grandma, she wouldn't have gotten that far. The teacher wouldn't have had time, and neither would I. "She would have just floated along." Grandma Iva beams at the words of praise. "I just love the kids," she says. And she loves to spend time with them. Since September, as part of the Kansas Children's Service League Foster Grandparent Program, Iva Farmer and Tillie Lantz, Salina sisters who are in their 70s, have dedicated four hours of every school day to students at Sunset Elementary School. Salinans Lois McKnight and Larry Clovis serve as foster grandparents at Schilling Elementary School. The program has enhanced lives on both sides of the school desk. The grandparents, who are given tax-free stipends of about $200 a month through a federal grant, provide much-needed, one-on-one attention for at-risk students. "They take the non-English- speaking children and work one-on- one with them, something the teachers aren't able to do," McNeal said. The grandmas also help super- Grandma Tlllle Lantz works with Nancy Radabaugh, 7, daughter of Kim Collins, In the hallway at Sunset Elementary School. Lantz likes to work with students in the hail because there are fewer distractions than In the classroom. Lantz's and Nancy's hands are seen (top photo) working on sentences. vise kindergartners during lunch, allowing Sunset to offer an extra half-hour of instruction time to select students. McNeal said kindergartners who are behind in their academic skills stay at school at extra hour or come in an hour early Half that time is spent eating lunch, and the rest is spent studying. "We didn't have anyone to supervise them for lunch," McNeal said. "The grandmas do it so we can offer the program. "If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be able to offer this." Kids respond to grandmas DeAnn Most, coordinator of the Andover-based foster grandparent program, said the intergenerational interaction is key The foster grandparents are addressed as Grandma or Grandpa, and they wear purple smocks so students can easily identify them as foster grandparents. "The title Grandma is important," Most said. "There is something that comes with that name." McNeal said grandparents can be strict but gentle. "They're seen as nurturing and caring. A teacher is more authoritarian," she said. "The kids mind better because they love their grandmothers and want to please them." Most said, "It's a different kind of relationship. There's something so unique about the two gen­ erations. It's a chemistry, I guess, if you will. "Kids respond differently to grandmas." The grandparents go through a week of orientation before they start in the schools — learning about child development, privacy issues and working with teachers and students. They also have a day of training once a month, hearing from experts on aging and foster parenting and other issues. Classroom teachers offer them lesson plans for individual students and tips in dealing with specific children. See GRANDMAS, Page D5 Grandmas & Grandpas needed People interested in becoming foster grandparents can caii tlie locai Kansas Cliildren's Service League office, (785) 8252677. Foster grandparents must meet certain income eiigibiiity requirements, be at least 60 years old and agree to work 20 hours a week. The selection process includes: • An application. • A personal interview with a Kansas Children's Service League staff member. • A professional background check. Foster grandparents receive: • 40 hours of pre- service orientation and monthly training. • A modest, tax- free stipend. • Assistance with transportation. • Free meals during service. • Annual physical examinations. SHARON RANDALL The Herald, Monterey, Calif. Easter shoes carry high price I don't need new shoes for Easter. Actually, I have never really needed new shoes for Easter, but there was a time in my life when I thought I did. Tell me this; How exactly does a "want" differ from a "need"? The best thing about the small Southern town where I grew up was it seldom let us feel we were poor. Which, of course, we were — poor as the red clay dirt beneath our feet — most of us anyhow. We lived, as my mother said, hand to mouth. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I knew it wasn't good. The few families in town that were considered wealthy tended to be land poor. And they never seemed much interested in flaunting their wealth or permitting their children to do so. We all went to the same school, played the same games, ate the same fried chicken in the cafeteria. We had most of what we needed, some of what we wanted and remained blessedly ignorant of things we might have missed. The one exception was Easter Sunday when everybody went to church, saints and sinners alike, all seeking the same salvation. But the big difference was this: Some wore new shoes, and some wore old, and everybody knew which was which. Or so it seemed to me the Easter when I was 9. There I sat, dangling my legs from the pew, staring at the shoes my mother had polished to look almost good as new and thinking that my feet looked not only old and ugly but unbelievably large. That is when I promised myself that come next Easter, I would be wearing new shoes. Here's how I got them. I told my daddy that my mother had said I needed new shoes for Easter No, she didn't say it; but I'm sure she thought it. Ever since their divorce, if I told him she said I needed something, he would try his best to get it. Those shoes cost a lot of money, several million, give or take. I didn't realize that until the clerk rang them up and I saw the look on my daddy's face. But, oh my, were they worth it — white patent leather with bright silver buckles — plus a pair of frilly socks that the clerk threw in when he, too, caught the look on my daddy's face. I wore them to church that Easter Sunday feeling shiny and clean and entirely superior, saved by the blood of Jesus and a brand new pair of shoes. Then my feet started to hurt. A lot. And after church I couldn't hunt for Easter eggs because my mother said I'd ruin my shoes. Which was just as well because I had pretty much ruined my feet. The next day, I smuggled the new shoes to school and put them on before class. We played tag at recess, and I had to be "it" the whole time because my feet were so sore I couldn't catch anybody. But the clincher came at lunch when I sat next to a friend who was wearing a pair of old, beat-up sneakers that were three sizes too big and had once belonged to her brother, She kept staring at my shoes, and the longer she stared, the more my feet hurt and the worse my heart ached. I hated those shoes. I ended up giving them to my cousin Linda, who had to wear them unbuckled because her feet were so big and who kept bugging me because I wouldn't give her the socks. I learned several lessons that Easter. First, salvation is like poverty, a matter of the heart; it is not so much about what you do or how you look as it is about who you are. Second, if you're going to lie to your daddy about something your mother said, make sure he never talks to her. And, finally, it doesn't matter how good you look or how superior you feel if it hurts your friend or your feet. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BRET WALLACE, ASSISTANT EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR ^800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT 8jbwaiiace@salJournai.com

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