Episcopal Retirement Homes
Episcopal Retirement Homes’ Council for Lifelong Engagement pairs talented seniors with local schoolteachers to enhance curricular offerings for students.
Old and Wise: Seniors Sharing Their Expertise with Students
Episcopal Retirement Homes’ Council for Lifelong Engagement has gained national attention for its important work in breaking down societal misconceptions on aging. It pairs talented, elderly members of ERH communities with opportunities to draw upon their expertise and life experiences to help educate local schoolchildren.
Partner schools and teachers collaborate with ERH to identify residents with specific kinds of knowledge and experience that fit the curricular needs of teachers. For instance, a resident who worked as an engineer was able to provide vital input to a class of students studying the space program. Another resident shared her expertise in music. Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences was provided by a physician who had spent his career at Cincinnati Children’s hospital. He ended up talking not only about medicine, but also provided a wealth of interesting facts, figures, and insights on the NASA space program. This prompted one of the students to tell his friends that an astronaut had visited their classroom!
Sometimes the learning is not purely academic, but social. For example, some senior residents provided a “fine dining” experience for local students to teach them “the ropes” regarding dining etiquette, helping youth resolve the long-enduring question of which fork to use and when.
So far about 200 ERH residents have participated in The Council for Lifelong Engagement, serving some 1100 students. The program has breathed new life into seniors who enjoy the chance to give back. It also helps dispel misconceptions that students can have of the elderly, while engendering in the seniors a new appreciation and optimistic view of the upcoming generation.