Retired Senior Volunteers impact the lives of Baltimore County’s youngest learners

By Tonee Lawson, Project Director, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Baltimore County Department of Aging

Through a partnership between the Baltimore County Department of Aging’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Baltimore County Public Schools, kindergarten classrooms throughout Baltimore County have received a very valuable addition. To teachers, this addition has come by way of an extra set of hands, eyes and ears, and to our earliest learners, this addition takes the form of a grandparent-like figure to assist with story time, center learning, and, in some cases, extra one-on-one help needed for skills development.

Volunteers PPES

Volunteer Renato Matias with student Diyana Rivera in Mrs. Hales’ classroom at Pleasant Plains Elementary School

In keeping with Dr. Dance’s mantra, RSVP volunteers have signed on to Team BCPS to assist with a variety of tasks. They enhance the learning environment by being a valuable resource to teachers. Furthermore, as the volunteers help kindergarten students gain necessary social and cognitive skills, they better prepare these students to progress to the next grade level and establish an excellent educational foundation.

A teacher from Wellwood International Elementary School says her RSVP volunteer “helps each student gain!”

During the 2012-2013 school year, RSVP volunteers served 4,182 hours in Baltimore County elementary Schools. Some volunteers may only be able to serve 6 hours a week, while others can give a little more. Collectively, the RSVP volunteers of Baltimore County have made a lasting impact on kindergarten students that will stick with them their whole lives.

Volunteer Antonia Matias with student Jacob Meyer in Mrs. Hales' classroom

Volunteer Antonia Matias with student Jacob Meyer in Mrs. Hales’ classroom

As author Robert Fulghum wrote, “All I really need to know… I learned in kindergarten.” Our volunteers share an abundance of love for learning and enthusiasm about acquiring new skills with the young learners; their reward is the students’ appreciation, smiles, and delight at understanding new concepts.

The BCPS/RSVP partnership has proven very successful. Teacher Robin Schwarz from Pinewood Elementary School feels that her RSVP volunteer is a valuable asset to her classroom learning environment.

She comments, “Mr. Dey is a tremendous help in the classroom. The children just love Mr. Dey and ask for him all the time. He has a great deal of patience and works well with all students. The weaker students feel more empowered with Mr. Dey’s help. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful volunteer.”

Teachers around the county echo Robin’s praise.

If you are a caring and patient individual willing to commit 6 hours (or more) per week, consider joining a vibrant group of volunteers, who work in kindergarten classes throughout Baltimore County. You must pass a background screening and attend orientation; then, you will work with a coordinator to schedule your volunteer assignment. Contact us today to explore this special opportunity to serve by calling the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at 410-887-2715 or emailing volunteers@baltimorecountymd.gov.

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