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Grandparents Give Back at JFK

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Affectionately called Grandma and Grandpa by the students of John F. Kennedy Elementary School, the five senior citizens who work in the school are making a lasting impression in the classroom.

The foster grandparents who volunteer in the classrooms help give extra support to the teachers and work closely with students. As part of the Foster Grandparents program, seniors are matched with schools in their area, where they spend time assisting students and making connections. Students are able to get one-on-one time with a foster grandparent, giving them the extra boost they need to succeed in school. 

 Some of the foster grandparents volunteer for a few hours per day while others spend the whole school day with the students. “I have been so fortunate to have had Grandpa Tony in my classroom for the past seven years,” Lisa DeGennaro, a first-grade teacher, said. “I have never met a more giving, positive individual, and it has been an absolute pleasure to spend my days with Grandpa Tony.”

“The most enjoyable part of my day is being in the classroom with 6- and 7-year-olds,” Tony Farina, aka Grandpa Tony, said. “They energize you. I find this program incredibly rewarding for me, and hopefully them, helping them with their academics but, more importantly, just spending time listening to them.”

Dorothy Cohn, aka Grandma Dorothy, has been part of the program for 13 years. She says she loves working with the little ones and it gives her a reason to get up in the morning. 

It may seem that the program is beneficial to the students, who receive extra attention in the classroom, but really, the relationship goes both ways. JoAnne Scipione, who has been working at the school for 16 years, says she loves working with the students and they give her back her life.
 
“It has been such a privilege to work with so many foster grandparents during my 21 years as principal of JFK,” Principal Gregg Cunningham said. “They provide such a valuable resource and service to our school, especially for our students. We’re so fortunate to have had such an outstanding program at JFK for so many years and, hopefully, for many more years to come!”

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