Experience Corps Help Classrooms Thrive
Mar. 30 - KGO (KGO) -- This year the first of the baby boomers will turn 61. Millions of them wonder what to do once they retire -- some see volunteering in their future. ABC7 found a group of retired folks already following their dreams by helping kids in the classroom. They are part of a non-profit group called "Experience Corps."
Pat Treadwell spends her golden years connecting with students in the classroom. She's one of 25 volunteers trained to tutor students in Oakland schools needing extra attention -- primarily in language, arts and math. The common denominator is their age -- most of them are over 55."Experience Corps" began in the United States in 1995 as a tool to improve public schools in need, using people with experience in education and time on their hands. Experience Corps came to Oakland in October 2005. Today, four public schools are taking advantage of the program. Naomi Jeannis spends twice a week at Monarch Academy . Naomi Jeannis: "The point is to work with the teacher, but using our own skills and our own interests and our own experience." For awhile, Mary Davis tutored junior college students, but she discovered some were not adequately prepared. Mary Davis: "I saw some of the students come into junior college. They didn't know how to write a paper, didn't know how to take notes, and didn't know the index from the table of contents." Davis decided to start at the beginning -- tutoring elementary kids instead. According to Experience Corps, 84 percent of students tutored one on one made extremely significant to significant academic progress. The idea is that any academic improvement will also help build up their self-esteem. Audrey Fucles and Mary Davis were also allowed to start a choir. For these students it's a way to express themselves and work as a team. Mary Davis: "Part of the teaching process is never be afraid to be a kid, as an adult and let that shine through for the kid and they will pick up on that because they feel you are being genuine with them and they usually respond." San Francisco public schools also use Experience Corps. Rich Yurman is a retired teacher. He spends his time writing poetry. His skills have been especially useful to ten-year-old Rose Lu. She read us one of her poems. Rose Lu: "I am scared of lightning. It sounds even worse than thunder! I read that a bolt of lighting can be brighter than a billion light bulbs." Yurman is quick to point out he's not the one who inspires Rose -- it's the other way around. Rich Yurman: "Rose inspires me. We get energy from each other. It is exciting to see someone who cares about language and cares about writing and cares about books." To these mentors, the experience they gained is now the experience they share. Rich Yurman: "I always felt that even with my children and all the children that I tutored, if you can find the key to that one child, you can open everything up, it's like looking for treasure."
For more information please click on: www.experiencecorps.org/bayarea.cfm
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