ABOVE: Watch what happens when fourth graders at Mercer Island’s Island Park Elementary meet their Adopted Grandparent pen pals for the first time, after exchanging letters for the whole school year!
MERCER ISLAND — Teacher Lindsay Oliveira jumped at the opportunity to have her Island Park Elementary fourth graders correspond with local grandparents. Starting this past September, she helped launch the “Adopted Grandparent Program”: each of her students were paired with one senior resident of Aljoya Mercer Island. All year, the pen pals exchanged letters; sharing stories, asking for advice, and becoming friends.
Both sides soon noticed the benefits. “It transformed them in so many ways,” Ms. Oliveira says of her students. From strengthening their writing skills and confidence, to exposing them to things they may not have been interested in otherwise, she has seen a huge change. “I think they have learned a lot of history from the grandparents, stories of fighting in wars and travels… The kids actually have shared interest in them wanting to possibly go to an opera, too!”
The Aljoya residents benefitted, too. “To us, the importance of this program is the incredible emotional value it brings,”Nicole Francois with Aljoya tells us. “Our residents have so many rich and full life experiences to bring!” She added the exchange seemed to bring out a new sense of confidence in the residents.
The “Adopted Grandparent Program” may just be in its first year, but it went so well, they’re planning to do it again in the coming school year- this time, with two classes participating!
Watch the video above to see what happened when the fourth graders met their Adopted Grandparents for the first time!