"Kindly, but firmly" redirecting students whe need guidance


Foster Grandparents’ role in classrooms is celebrated during luncheon program



“Kindly but firmly redirect.”

It was a phrase heard several times during descriptions of the award winners at Friday’s Foster Grandparents Appreciation Lunch at Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church.

It means to get a child in a classroom back on task with a kind touch, but an I-mean-business nudge - something administered every day by grandmothers and grandfathers.

The best “nudger” for this year was announced as Joyce Hill, the 2018-19 Foster Grandparent of the Year.

Other award recipients were:

Champagne Award for sparkling personality:

Carolyn Davenport-Jones;

First Responder Award for the volunteer is always ready to help when needed:

Sara Hudgens;

Duct Tape Award for the volunteer that is able to fix anything or any situation:

Lula Bell Turner;

Dumplings Award for the volunteer that is most comforting:

Celeste Lynch;

Locksmith Award for the volunteer that displays work habits that are key to a successful classroom, school and/or program:

Jesse Pulley.

There are 51 senior citizens volunteering in classrooms in 10 Districts 56 and 55 schools. The program is sponsored by the Piedmont Agency on Aging, and funded by a federal grant (Corporation of National and Community Service). They work in classrooms mentoring and tutoring one-on-one with children, and give their students extra help and the encouragement they need to accomplish their classroom goals.

Barbara Vance, 2017-18 Foster Grandparent of the Year, said she has been with the program since 2005-06, ever since she was coming to the former Senior Options to exercise and was told about what the grandparents do.

“I came to Clinton Elementary for training; and I am still helping children who need help, that’s what I love to do,” she said, describing several moves within the school. “I have 15 years at Clinton Elementary, and as long as I am able to go, I will be there to help another child.”   

“My grandma used to keep us Friday nights, and when we went to bed she would tell us stories. My grandmother would sing songs to me about going to heaven and streets of gold, and I so treasure those times,” said Tammy Stewart, Ford Elementary kindergarten teacher and District 56 board member. “She made my favorite foods, and she listened to me.

“I had the joy of living next door to my grandmother. Children today don’t have that; they have grandparents like me who are still working or they live away, or they live with their grandparents, but the grandparents are actually the parents. You have the very, very special job of being their grandparent. You listen, you read to them, tell a story, tie a shoe - you find the time to do the things that we find hard to do. Every one of those children needs a grandma. Every one of those children needs a grandpa.”

Stewart said, “I have been so blessed through this program. We can talk about the money it saves the districts, but it all boils down to those relationships you build with those children. The children that need you every day, and those teachers who need you every day. You are appreciated by those teachers, but you are appreciated by those children and parents, as well.”

Grandparent of the Year award recipient Joyce Hill was described as “always very kind and nurturing. She takes the ones with behavior issues under her wing. She is always on time and attentive to needs of our students; she gives out her hugs and encourages all our students. She loves to see her students succeed, and learn new ways to help them.”

“Thank you for your love and your firmness when needed,” said Schea Workman, FGP Director. “We see that a lot in the descriptions - ‘kind‘ but ‘firm’ (in redirecting students to get back on task).”

Tracey Bedenbaugh, PAOA chief operating officer, closed the program telling the Foster Grandparents, “To see the teachers here and the amount of teachers we have here, we say thank you for allowing (foster grandparents) into your classrooms. It takes a lot of dedication to work with children. I’m very grateful for you.”


Foster Grandparents Info: Schea Workman, FGP Director, 864-547-8152; e-mail: sworkman@piedmontaoa.com  

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