Elders, Kids Learn From Each Other at West Homer


     Last week, West Homer Elementary’s teachers welcomed community elders and grandparents into their classrooms for "Elders for Education Day," a new tradition that teachers hope will foster a strong and lasting connection between the classroom and Homer’s elders.
     Not wanting to limit those welcome to attend, organizers extended the invitation not just to grandparents but to any older individuals that students wanted to spend some classtime with. In Robin Walls’ third grade classroom, small groups of students explored Dr. Suess’s word smithing with a visiting grandmother. 
     Elinor, a retired math teacher, appreciated the opportunity to be involved in the school in a new capacity.
     "This is a good idea," she said. "It's nice to bring another generation into the school."
     The day of reading and interaction, while heralding in an annual event, was also a way to encourage elders to continue coming into the schools throughout the year. Involvement options include working through programs like Foster Grandparent and Senior Comapnion, both under the Alaska Community Services umbrella. Those programs offer participants a stipend for time spent in schools acting as helper and role model for community youth.
     Establishing such connections within the school system is a win-win, said West Homer Librarian Lisa Whip, giving kids a new element of support and retired adults an active role with Homer’s younger generation.
     That was the whole point of this event, she said, to open West Homer’s doors to a variety of community involvement.