Foster Grandparents give one-on-one help to students

Oct 11 2010 - 11:42pm

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Carlene Mahany (left) helps Hailey Sager with reading at South Weber Elementary School in South Weber on Tuesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Jean Lay (left) helps Meadow Jensen with some math problems at South Weber Elementary School in South Weber on Tuesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Carlene Mahany (left) helps Hailey Sager with reading at South Weber Elementary School in South Weber on Tuesday.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Jean Lay (left) helps Meadow Jensen with some math problems at South Weber Elementary School in South Weber on Tuesday.

Carlene Mahany looks forward to the time she spends each day with some of South Weber Elementary School's smallest readers.

Four days a week, Mahany enters the first- and second-grade classroom and helps the children read, spell, do math and work on their punctuation.

Mahany is a Foster Grandparent and says she gets just as much, if not more, out of her job than the kids she helps.

"I love it. It's a wonderful program," she said. "I love the little children and enjoy working with them. It gives me a sense of helpfulness."

The Foster Grandparents Program is designed for adults age 55 and older, said Charity Moon, director of the program for Weber, Davis, Morgan, Box Elder and Cache counties.

Foster Grandparents serve 15 to 30 hours each week in a local school, tutoring children one on one as well as in small groups.

"The main focus of the program is to help children with literacy skills," Moon said.

"However, Foster Grandparents are able to tutor children in any area where the child is struggling. We have Foster Grandparents who tutor children in reading, writing, math, spelling, social studies and even computer skills."

Foster Grandparents are given a monthly stipend, mileage reimbursement, a free lunch and training for their services, Moon said.

Some of the requirements of becoming a Foster Grandparent include being 55 years or older, passing a fingerprint test, having a moderate to low income, being willing to serve at least 15 hours each week and having a desire to help a struggling child.

"Essentially, Foster Grandparents are role models, mentors and friends who utilize their lifelong knowledge and expertise to help a child gain the skills necessary to succeed in life," Moon said.

Judy Gibbons has been a Foster Grandparent at J.A. Taylor Elementary School in Bountiful for about a year. Last month, she had to temporarily quit because of health problems, but she hopes to go back soon because she believes strongly in the program.

"I have always said, if you can learn to read, you can do anything in life," Gibbons said. "I love little children. I ran a daycare business for 10 years and taught 3- and 4-year-olds. Sometimes children just need a helping hand to get them over the hump so they can succeed in school."

Gibbons said she also helped children read and do various other assignments. She said she got a lot of pleasure out of seeing them accomplish their goals.

"Sometimes I got emotionally attached. They are so easy to love," she said. "The program is wonderful and very worthwhile. I would recommend it to anyone who loves children and wants to feel good about helping them."

To inquire about the program, call Moon at 801-625-3865.

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