The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 13, 2013

'I love you Grandma warms my heart'

Children benefit from extra instruction offered through Area I Foster Grandparents program

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — In the hallway of Hoover Elementary School, Mary Ann Stowe holds up cards with letters on them and asks children to say their names and sounds.

Some letters are clearly hard for the children. When she holds up the card showing the letter Q, the children make sounds for L and O. When she holds up the M, the first answer she receives is W.

Stowe goes through the alphabet cards twice and then starts a game wherein the first correct letter sound gets a child a chance to play a fishing game.

Stowe has been a volunteer for Area I Foster Grandparents program for three years. During that time, she has worked with kindergarten students of Zack and Nicole Moneypenny, husband and wife who both teach at Hoover.

“I was the business manager at Enid Property Management, but I taught preschool years ago,” Stowe said. “I kept seeing this ad for foster grandparents, so I checked into it.”

Perhaps Stowe’s experience of teaching early education paid off. Nicole Moneypenny said Stowe is easy to work with.

“I can tell Grandma one time, and she knows what the children need, grabs her stuff and goes and does it,” Nicole Moneypenny said. “It’s like having another teacher.”

“I love children,” Stowe said. “That’s what drew me back to this.”

Stowe’s help has made a huge difference for Hoover’s kindergarteners.

“There are so many children who would have to be retained if it were not for her,” Nicole Moneypenny said. “I know she does what she does from her heart.”

“I just feel children need this good base,” Stowe said. “If they don’t know the letters and the sounds, they won’t be able to start reading. But hearing them say things like, ‘I love you, Grandma,’ warms my heart.”

Moneypenny said Stowe has provided individual tutoring to one student struggling to master letter recognition.

Stowe also works with reading, reading comprehension and sight recognition of words, as well as math skills.

Next, Stowe and students will venture into geometry and simple addition and subtraction.

“She’s another avenue to practice skills that need reinforcement,” Nicole Moneypenny said. “I appreciate her punctuality and her dedicated heart.”

Beside volunteering at Hoover, Stowe also volunteers on Fridays at Our Daily Bread. She is a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where she sings in the choir. She is also one of eight women in a singing group called Melody Girls, that performs 1940s-1950s music at nursing homes and local community events.

Susie Daniels, program director for the Area 1 Foster Grandparent program, said volunteers work with youths through fifth grade in Enid and regional schools.

“The volunteers love being in the classroom, the children benefit from that extra assistance and the teachers are very appreciative of having extra hands,” Daniels said. “I have so much pride in our senior population and how they can meet community needs.”

Area I Foster Grandparent Program requires participants to be 55 or older, enjoy working with children, be in reasonably good health and able to serve a minimum of 15 hours per week.

Benefits include a tax-free $2.65 per hour stipend if income eligible, paid leave and holidays, a free annual physical, transportation assistance and a free daily meal.

For information about Foster Grandparents, contact the program at 548-8900 or toll free at (800) 522-1064.