First graders from Hoover make their monthly visit to The Fountains on Nov. 17. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: The Fountains
Herbert Hoover elementary students have started a new tradition of traveling to The Fountains retirement home to teach students about the importance of community and what it means to be engaged in a diverse environment.
“Our district had the theme ‘Relationships Matter’, and we thought that fostering relationships with people in our community, other than typical peers, would be beneficial to seniors and students alike. This concept has been seen and researched across the nation with preschools being integrated into assisted living facilities and the positive outcomes inspired us to bring the idea to our community,” said Emily Fall, first grade teacher at Hoover.
The students enjoy this new opportunity and an added bonus is that it also benefits the seniors at The Fountains.
“We have already received great feedback. Due to their age, many residents have lost people in their lives and are looking for people to interact with socially. Our first graders are fun and energetic companions to have. It brings back memories of childhood for the people living at The Fountains. It also gives them something to look forward to and brings joy to their day,” Fall said.
“We get to see this fun train track thing and one time we got to make cookies, but I wasn’t there and also we got some cookies. The first time I was there, we got to see the gym room, we got to see my teacher’s mom, and some people in my class saw Mrs. Fall’s kids. We make friends with the people that live there. I read them stories, drew with them, saw the church room, and there were lots of games,” said Zaylee Pearson, 7.
Traveling to The Fountains assists students in learning about relationships and helps them become more socially aware in an entertaining way, but does it in a way that allows the school to cover learning standards that must be taught.
“All of our activities have been planned and based around our first grade learning standards. The activity we are most excited about is bringing the residents of The Fountains to Hoover in May in order to have deeper conversation about how schools today are different from long ago, a social students standard needing to be instructed. We are hoping the students realize that they are a part of a community that extends outside of their home, school. and neighborhood. We also hope to teach the students that they can learn things from people of different ages and backgrounds,” Fall said.
Due to the multitude of benefits this decision creates, teachers would like to see this become a tradition for years to come. Having other schools join in is also something that Hoover wants to see become a reality.
“The first grade teachers wrote a grant to the Betterment Schools Foundation in order to fund the busing as well activities early this fall. The idea was then approved, and we were notified in October. Now that we have established a relationship with The Fountains, we would like to see this continue if the funds can become available yearly,” Fall said.
A connection throughout society and through generations greatly helps to teach the younger generations something new about the world they live in and how much it has changed. As any child, they are only concerned with what is around them, but traveling to The Fountains assists them in becoming excited about learning about the life before them.
“At first the students were unsure of where we were going and what we were doing. After our first visit, all three of us first grade teachers have found our students asking when we are able to go back. The students really enjoyed their time and look forward to the activities and conversations,” Fall said.