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Sheboygan Press Editorial: Foster Grandparents Valuable Part of Sheboygan Schools

The Sheboygan Area School District is marking 35 years of its highly successful Foster Grandparent program this year. This unique program brings together two generations separated by dozens of years in an environment of learning and personal growth.

The three-dozen senior citizens in the Sheboygan program serve as role models and mentors to the hundreds of elementary school kids they interact with on a daily basis. They share not only the wisdom of their years, but also the same kind of love and compassion they have shown their own grandchildren.

This kind of bond is invaluable in the classroom because it gives the students another person they can confide in. For some of the youngsters, this kind of relationship may not be available outside of school.

The foster grandparent is also a helpful assistant to the classroom teacher by working with the students on projects and assignments. In many cases, they provide one-on-one tutoring.

But the students are not the only ones who benefit.

This program can be equally valuable to the participating seniors who experience great satisfaction in helping youngsters grow and mature.

For some, the small, tax-free stipend they receive from the federally funded program can be a lifesaver in these difficult economic times. The foster grandparents also are reimbursed for their mileage to and from school and get a free meal on the days they serve in the classroom.

But we doubt there are many in the Sheboygan school system serving as a foster grandparents who are doing it for the small amount of money they get.

It's more likely they take part for the same reason Marge Ruppel, profiled in a story on the program in The Sheboygan Press earlier this week, joined up 12 years ago.

"It's just that we know we can help somebody," the 76-year-old retired nursing assistant said.

We applaud Marge and the dozens of others like her who have chosen to "help somebody" and who are so valuable to education in Sheboygan.

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
April 24, 2009