What is the Seniors & Students Program?
Seniors & Students is a cooperative program between the Hamilton School District and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which is a part of Interfaith Senior Programs of Waukesha County. Seniors & Students is designed to recruit, train and place senior citizen volunteers age 55 and older in the Hamilton School District. Volunteers work with teachers and other staff to support student learning. RSVP and the district successfully co-authored a federal grant application that allows a part-time RSVP employee to coordinate and place senior citizen volunteers. School district staff assist with training, recruitment and administration of the program.
Seniors & Students Scoop newsletter
Program expands since inception
The Seniors & Students Program has successfully grown since it was originally implemented in the 1998-99 school year when 24 senior citizen volunteers served as reading tutors for elementary students. Today, more than 200 senior citizens are involved in the Seniors & Students Program and volunteer in a variety of ways. The program has a direct and indirect impact on more than 1,000 students.
- A total of 66 senior volunteers work as tutors – some providing direct assistance in elementary and middle school classrooms and others at the high school where they monitor computer labs, tutor and help with homework in Club Success.
- A group of senior volunteers from the Arboretum in Menomonee Falls visit Lannon Elementary School twice a month to read with students.
- The Age-to-Age Pen Pal Project was created as a spin-off of the original program and involves 235 senior citizens who correspond with 328 elementary school-age children developing real-life writing skills.
- Middle school students capture living history by interviewing senior citizens for class projects. The experiences of one generation are passed along to another, providing a great point of connection among different age groups.
- Volunteers provide clerical assistance throughout the district and for many special projects.
- Senior citizen volunteers have provided numerous contributions to make the lives of students more comfortable including the donation of handknit hats and mittens and handsewn quilts.
Since its inception, the Seniors & Students Volunteer Program has contributed more than 56,850 hours of service in the Hamilton School District. This equates to more than $1 million worth of services for our students!
Volunteer training & responsibilities
Volunteers receive training at an initial orientation session and in-services throughout the year. They help students practice and reinforce strategies learned in the classroom and assist teachers with a variety of tasks including: supervising students in a computer lab; helping kindergarten students with pre-emergent reading checklists; helping students with homework during recess and after school; assisting students in the library; providing support to students who need monitoring; reading to students; listening to students read; providing clerical and organizational support for classroom teachers; assisting teachers gather instructional resources; and critiquing writing drafts.
Achievement increases, participants rate program success
Quantitative and qualitative data indicate the Seniors and Students initiative supports improved student achievement and development of effective partnerships. In 1999 for the first time, 100 percent of district third-graders scored proficient or above on the Third Grade Reading Test. The most recent results show that Hamilton 3rd-graders have the highest percentage of proficient and advanced ratings of any K-12 school district in Waukesha County. Other standardized assessment measures show individual and district composite score gains in reading. Nearly 86 percent of senior citizens who participated in the program indicated in surveys that they felt they were making a difference for students. All indicated that the training sessions were beneficial. Among the teachers who answered the question in a survey, 100 percent indicated that student interest, motivation or achievement increased as a result of working with a Seniors and Students volunteer. Ninety percent of teachers who participated in the program had a high desire to continue participation in the program the following year.
Other communities use Hamilton's model of collaboration
As a result of the Hamilton School District's success with the Seniors and Students Program, similar programs were initiated in neighboring school districts using Hamilton's experience as a model.
If you are interested in being part of the Seniors and Students Program, please contact Seniors & Students Project Coordinator Becky Hubred at (262) 246-1973 x1524 or BeckyH@interfaithwaukesha.org.