The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 23, 2001 · Page 35
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 35

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, April 23, 2001
Page 35
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8 MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2000 THE SALINA JOURNAL . • . Students, Seniors Benefit by Sharing Lives By Sharon Montague The Saiina Journal The young Hispanic girl spoke not a word of English when she started second grade at Sunset Elementary School this fali. "She didn't know her colors, she was struggling to learn the alphabet," said Kendra McNeal, the school's Title 1 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 L "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 Fanner 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 supervise 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 an 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 generations. 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. But Most said most of what the grandparents do comes naturally. "Life has taught them so much," she said, "that's where the intergenerational thing really comes in. They know things you can't learn in a university or from in service training." Kids and grandmas grow Most said the children blossom under the attention showered on them by the grandmothers. "And she's seen the grandmas blossom, too. "You can see them change," Most said. "They have a purpose now. they're over 60, and they're coming into their own. "You can see such a change in their frame of mind. It breaks the mold of what society sees as aging. It shows they have so much to offer still." Lantz, or Grandma Tillie as she's called by the students, retired from her job as a licensed practical nurse and was spending most of her time at home, putting together jigsaw puzzles, when her sister told her about the program. "It's been good for rae," she said. "It's gotten me our of the house. "I live in a trailer. It doesn't take that long to straighten your trailer up." Grandma Iva had monitored students on a school bus before suffering a heart attack in 1995 and undergoing bypass surgery. She has seen her health improve since she started working with students. "This has really helped my legs," she said. "You walk the halls a lot. I don't just go out and walk, but this keeps me going, when I get home, I'm kind of tired." But no matter how tired she and Grandma Tillie are, they're always ready to greet their foster grandchildren - at school for away from school. Grandma Iva was at Appletree Restaurant in Salina one evening when two of her students rushed to her and gave her hugs, their parents hung back, admonishing the children not to bother the elderly lady. Grandmas & Grandpas Needed People interested in becoming foster grandparents can call the local Kansas Children's Service League office, (785)825-2677. Foster grandparents must meet certain income eligibility 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 preservice orientation and monthly training. • A modest, tax-free stipend. • Assistance with transportation. • Free meals during service. • Annual physical examinations. j^Thank you to our Volunteers who've shared^ our vision of conservation and education. We couldn't do it without YOU! To join our volunteer team call 827-9488 ext. 43 WiLDLire CONSERVATION CENTER INC. "I introduced myself and told them I didn't mind," Grandma Iva said. "The children are just precious," Grandma Tillie said. More slots are open The only problem is there aren't enough foster grandparents to go around. Most's foster grandparent grogram, created about two years ago , is one of seven in the state. It's funded through the same source as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and works closely with that program in recruiting foster grandparents. "They've opened a lot of doors for us," Most said. The school district was ecstatic to have the grandmothers, McNeal said, and quickly put them to work. "I put up a sheet at the beginning of the year, with the times they would be available and had teachers sign up," McNeal said. "It wasn't hard to fill up the slots. We could have used more." The federal program grant would fund about 50 foster grandparents ages 60 or older; but Most said only about two dozen are working in Salina, Andover, Hutchinson, Junction City and Pratt. "There's such a need for this everywhere," Most said. "It's a win-win program, bringing the generations together." THANK YOU! Meals On Wheels Volunteers & Senior Center Volunteers Your Cheerful Generosity & Genuine Spirit of Caring Touch Hundreds of Lives r r If Without YOU These Programs Would Not Be Possible! From Your Grateful Friends At The Salina Meals On Wheels Program & The Salina Senior Center National \blunteer V(^ek AprU 23, 2001 I Everyone at Hospice of Salina, Inc. would like to i extend a big thank you to all of our volunteers! You \ are a devoted group who seems to always go the extra ^mile. Whether you are visiting with a patient, \ delivering roses, working on a mailer, helping in the \ office or working on the Fall Sale you give it your all. \ Knowing we can count on you makes ^ our jobs easier and the lives *of our patients better. So, I during National Volunteer fweek we thank you! I Volunteers are the ^ heart of Hospice. HOSPICE OF SAUNA, INC.,

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