MANTI—The South Sanpete School District has announced a “foster grandparent” program, which Superintendent Ralph Squire said he is really excited about.
The district unveiled the plan at a school board meeting Wednesday June 7 at the school district office. The program would be run through Americorps, a federal public service agency.
Under the foster grandparent program, people over 55 will work in classrooms providing encouragement to children by being a mentor, tutor, storyteller and more, Squire said.
The volunteers will serve 15-40 hours per week helping children achieve success academically, socially and developmentally. They will be classroom grandparents, there to provide teachers with support for struggling students.
According to the AmeriCorps website, students benefit significantly from having supportive figures in their lives. And volunteers get a chance to connect with the next generation and can become critical figures in youngsters’ lives.
“The program is an incredible opportunity to get more one-on-one help with reading and supporting and tutoring for students,” Squire said. “It has a profound and powerful impact on students.”
He said following retirement, his own father went to Ephraim Elementary School to read with students, which was a benefit to both students and his father.
Volunteers will be asked to read with children, work one-on-one with small groups, talk with and listen to the children, play games, do crafts and activities, and be an observer during group instruction time.
Meradee Peterson, volunteer service manager at the Six County Association of Governments, said she is excited to help anyone who is interested connect with the program. Volunteers need to pass a background check, and get a physical, along with some training.
If you are interested, contact Peterson in Richfield at (435) 893-0735 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
District leaders have taken to the airwaves over Mid-Utah Radio stations to encourage students to read over the summer. The district has also run ads in the Sanpete Messenger and Gunnison Valley Gazette promoting reading over the summer.
“Reading is the most essential tool or gift we can give students,” Squire said. “It opens doors to the future and gives them unlimited opportunities to do or be whatever they aspire to.”
Students are being encouraged to read 20 minute per day for the rest of the summer. Parents are asked to set a specific time and goal for reading in their homes.
Squire said parents spend so much money and effort to get their kids to ball games, trips and experiences that many times they neglect intellectual growth.
The summer slide is real and when students don’t engage in reading or schoolwork, such as working on Summer Bridges activity workbooks, they have a setback or loss of their intellectual muscle, their brain, and it takes weeks or even several months during the next school year to get them back to where they were at the end of the previous year.
Squire said cited the following rhyme, which captures what the district wants students and families to do this summer:
“READ together, READ alone;
READ out loud, READ at home;
READ quietly, READ on a trip;
READ with your family, READ while you skip;
READ a novel, READ while you cruise;
READ the sports, READ for the news;
READ by yourself, READ with a child;
READING can be fun, READING can be Wild.”