School Business Affairs June 2020

20 JUNE 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS seniors use their tech devices, we hope to bridge that digital divide and connect them to friends and family through technology. These efforts create a level of intergenera- tional connection that is beneficial for both students and seniors. Senior Fairs The district also participates in two community senior fairs. One is hosted by a small municipality within our boundaries and the other is hosted by a community organiza- tion that targets all seniors within the county. These events allow us as a district to talk face-to-face with seniors in the community about programs available to them, like Senior PALS, as well as about current initiatives. We also benefit by getting a list of attendees, which we add to our data- base of senior patrons. Great by 8 FHSD also engages our senior com- munity through a volunteer reading program called Great by 8. The goal of this program is to increase and improve student reading proficiency by age eight. Volunteers are asked to dedicate time during school hours to tutor students in a one-on-one small- group setting, to increase students’ proficiency and mastery of targeted skill sets. Volunteers help students with sight words, letter recognition, sounds, handwriting, and indi- vidual needs. Our experience has shown that for early intervention to be success- ful, volunteers must work with stu- dents frequently. This makes seniors ideal volunteers because they can consistently dedicate their time to connect with students and develop trusting relationships. School-Based Activities In addition to district-led initiatives, individual schools have hosted events to engage with the senior community. Grandparents’ Day in September is traditionally a great opportunity for grandparents (and grandfriends) who live in the community to visit schools and see what goes on inside their grandchild’s classroom. All FHSD schools also host an annual Veterans Day celebration to recognize those who have served our country. Schools have created walls of honor to proudly display photos of parents and grandparents who have served in the military and have hosted fundraisers to benefit Honor Flight. Many students also partici- pate in projects interviewing veter- ans and creating oral histories. These activities build intergenerational connections and provide insight into the past and their grandpar- ents’ lives. Reaching Out and Bringing Them In Based on the spectrum of ages in our senior community, we know not all of our senior patrons use elec- tronic communication and we must communicate with them through a variety of channels, so we commu- nicate via print publications as well as digital newsletters. (See related article on page 22.) We know from survey data that many of our retirees and alumni remain in the district, and we want to remain connected to these groups who are already champions of the school district. We are also devel- oping initiatives to engage older district alums and retired district employees. Our senior community is liv- ing longer, and its population will continue to grow. Its members offer a lifetime of knowledge and experi- ence to share with the entire school community. The promise of higher property values isn’t enough; they need a reason to engage with the school district. Find a way to get your senior community engaged and your district will be the better for it. Jennifer Henry is communications man- ager for Francis Howell School District in St. Charles, Missouri. Email: Jennifer. Seniors offer a lifetime of knowledge and experience to share with the school community.