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Grandparents provide support through schools

Diane Naylor works with her granddaugher Robin in the classroom at Buffalo Ridge Elementary. Naylor is one of many grandparents volunteering in the local schools.

(Photo by Carin Kirkegaard)

by Carin Kirkegaard

Volunteering in a child’s classroom is a luxury that not every parent is able to indulge. With full time jobs and demanding schedules, it quite often takes a Herculean effort just to manage to get out the door on time. With recent school budget cuts, the need for volunteers is likely to increase and with an economy in peril, the number of parents heading to the workforce is also likely to climb.

For Surrey Ridge resident, Stacey Dowling having her mom Diane Naylor in the classroom with both her fourth grader and first grader is invaluable. Her husband Matt is full time teacher, and Stacey works as well.

“It’s great to have my mom there to be an extra set of eyes and ears,” said Dowling.

Naylor started volunteering in the classroom when her oldest grandson started first grade. She has added a classroom each year as her three other grandchildren entered school. In the kindergarten, first, second and fourth grade classrooms, Naylor spends her time reviewing work, helping with reading, and working math problems.

“Helping in the classroom keeps me a part of their lives,” said Naylor. “It makes me feel good.”

Pam Davis, a grandmother of an autistic grandson, has found another way to help not only her grandchild, but also her son and daughter-in-law. She currently serves on the Douglas County Special Education Advisory Council (DCSEAC).

The purpose of the council is to communicate information as well as influence and support programming for students with disabilities in the Douglas County School District (DCSD).

A retired teacher of 32 years, Davis chose to serve her grandson by working to help special needs children within the DCSD, rather than directly in the classroom.

Now that she has retired from teaching, “It is time to take care of my own kids and grandkids. My son and daughter-in-law count on me to keep abreast of what is happening,” said Davis.

“It is becoming one of the fastest, growing traditions to have grandma or grandpa spending time in our schools volunteering. While grandparents can help out with anything from working in small groups to individual tutoring, they also share their stories of past experiences and words of wisdom, unmatched by the younger generation,” said Kristin Duran, Volunteer Coordinator of Buffalo Ridge Elementary.

The DCSD also recognizes the value of generations helping generations and since 1989 has provided a Senior Employment Program. The program is designed to get seniors into the classrooms and in return help them with a paycheck that can be applied to the senior’s property taxes.

The program takes up to 90 seniors that are 60 years of age or older and own property in Douglas County. Participants work a maximum of 170 hours and receive an hourly wage of $7.45.

The program works with the senior to find an appropriate school fit. To learn more about the program call Stacey Neith, Senior Employee Program Coordinator DCSD at 303-387-0032.



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