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Board Learns About SCOE Intergenerational Program

Senior Citizen Volunteer Program “a Jewel”

Jan Talbot in front of projection screen

Jan Talbot, who coordinates the Intergenerational Program presented a slideshow depicting volunteers working with students and teachers.

More than 200 senior citizens volunteer their time each year to serve the students of Sacramento, reported Dr. Joyce Wright at the September 13 meeting of the Sacramento County Board of Education.

Dr. Wright, who serves as Instructional Support Services Director for Elementary and Middle Schools at the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), told Board members about the achievements of the Intergenerational Program. She called the program "a jewel that shines brightly in Sacramento County."

Dr. Wright introduced Jan Talbot, who coordinates the Intergenerational Program. Talbot gave a slide show presentation depicting the volunteers who work with students and teachers in more than 60 schools throughout the county. The average volunteer, said Talbot, is 70 years of age and works in the classroom four hours a day, five days a week. A total of 14,000 hours is contributed by Intergenerational Program volunteers each year.

She gave each of the School Board Trustees an Intergenerational Program volunteer packet and explained how volunteers are trained to coach students in reading, help children develop their math and writing skills, and provide assistance in a variety of areas to teachers. Among the materials used by volunteers are teaching aids and an information kit developed 18 years ago under the leadership of Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dr. David P. Meaney, who at the time was serving as Director of Curriculum with the San Diego County Office of Education. Dr. Meaney, said Joyce Wright, was the person responsible for launching the original Intergenerational Program in San Diego and for ensuring its start in Sacramento County.

Jan Talbot introduced kindergarten teacher Lani Chapman of Oak Chan Elementary School in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, who spoke about the benefit and value of having older adults volunteer in her classroom. Chapman told of the contributions of Karyl Meyers—who had served 15 years as an Intergenerational Program volunteer until her death—and read aloud a special tribute in memory of Meyers.

Jan Talbot announced that in honor of Karyl Meyers, the Sacramento County Office of Education would annually recognize an Intergenerational Volunteer of the Year. The first-ever "Karyl Meyers Volunteer of the Year Award, 1999-2000" was presented by Talbot to Doris Menuez, who has worked many years with students in the Del Paso Heights School District.

The Sacramento County Board of Education rose to applaud Menuez for her dedication to the Intergenerational Program and the students of Sacramento County.

In Memory of Intergenerational Program Volunteer Karyl Meyers

By Lani Chapman

To the teacher, the assistant
is a friend, mentor, teacher, partner, and confidant…
is experienced help in the classroom…
reduces the teachers' load – allows the teacher to attend to children who need the most help.

The retired person may often have a half-century of collected
wisdom and experience to bring to the classroom.

In my class, you
remember birthdays,
tell stories…
listen to them read stories at the end of the year…
Coach them to sound out words,
to write in their journals…
Help us practice addition and subtraction facts…
Notice and comment when they
write their name the first time…
Teach them new and old songs and poems
you share so much.

And the story is the same in every classroom, too.

We cannot afford not to take advantage of this precious resource
at a time when educational resources are so rare.
The cost of the program is so little,
while the value added to education
is so great—
the definition of a good deal!
From the point of view of the volunteer, the contribution of time
itself is a very valuable gift.
This increases their own self-esteem
as a continuing contributor to the benefit
of society.

As more family members work, and
very often live away from their extended families,
this program presents the only opportunity many children will experience
to see the productive interaction of three generations.
This gives children confidence and trust in older people,
and builds an appreciation that will make them
better and more considerate members of society.

The positive experience this program imparts
leaves student, teacher, and assistant with a richer life.

At this point, I would like to quote a recent article I saw that seems relevant here.

Who can:
Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prizes?
Name the last five Academy Award winners for best actor or actress?
Name the five wealthiest people in the world?

The point is that none of is remembers the headliners of yesterday, even if they are the best in their fields. The applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

But now try this:
Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

Was this easier?

The point here is that people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards.

They are the ones who care.

We can never quantify the impact you have made
on the children's lives, or on our lives.
But those of us who have experienced your presence
certainly recognize the great value
you have brought to us.

Lani Chapman, Teacher
Oak Chan Elementary School
Folsom Cordova Unified School District

Lani Chapman

Kindergarten teacher Lani Chapman talked about the benefit and value of having older adults volunteer in her classroom.

Jan Talbot and Doris Menuez

The first-ever "Karyl Meyers Volunteer of the Year Award" was presented by program coordinator Jan Talbot to Doris Menuez (right).

Volunteer Karyl Meyers with students

Volunteer Karyl Meyers with students