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Seniors help local schools
By David Gordon
For BaltimoreStories.com

Experience Corps. places seniors in schools and is having surprising results

A new program aimed at helping Baltimore schools is gaining attention and support from principals, teachers and government officials.

The program is called Experience Corps. and it places senior citizens as volunteers into public elementary school classrooms in Baltimore.

The program is a joint venture between Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Greater Homewood Community Corporation (GHCC).

GHCC, a non-profit organization that serves communities in northern Baltimore, coordinates the program. Johns Hopkins is involved in training volunteers and measuring the medical benefits of the program.

Experience Corps., as part of the public education program of GHCC, hopes to improve the quality of education and attention students get in public city schools.

"Experience Corps. is a group of roughly 90 senior citizens that volunteer in six of the Baltimore City Public Elementary Schools, 15 or more hours per week," said Sylvia McGill, the director of the program.

The main goal of the program is mentoring and tutoring students.

"One of their major jobs is paired reading," said Megan McLaughlin-Corey, a first grade teacher with an Experience Corps. volunteer in her classroom.

For paired reading the senior works one-on-one with a student who is usually a slower reader. They frequently read stories together and the child is tested on the material. It helps to sharpen the child’s reading and comprehension skills.

"Experience Corps. allows great one-on-one with kids and frees up my time to teach," said McLaughlin-Corey.

The volunteers also assist the teachers by filing papers, grading tests, making copies and many other jobs.

The program is such a success that Mayor Martin O'Malley is looking to implement the Experience Corps. program in all Baltimore city elementary schools.

For more information visit GHCC’s web site.

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