Bringing together the teaching skills of retired teachers with the learning needs of children, many of whom are refugees, has been a match made in heaven for one northern suburbs school in Adelaide.
All it took was a school principal with a big heart, an inspiring online English program helping disadvantaged children, and a team of grannies.
This band of friends from the Bridgewater Lutheran congregation in the Adelaide Hills were retired educators who still had lots of love and learning to share. And share it they have – with 25 refugee students from the Blair Athol North Birth to Year 7 School’s remedial English program.
Over the past year, 73-year-old Gill Stevenson and friends Sheri Paschke, Judi Bell, Betty Lores and Julie Grierson have run weekly intensive English coaching sessions via the internet meeting system Zoom for the students, which also continued through COVID-19 restrictions.
Teaching is in her blood for Gill, and her husband of 53 years, retired Lutheran Pastor Alex Stevenson, whose first career was in teaching before he was called to the ministry. It is a gift shared by their son Darren who, as principal of the Blair Athol school, was inspired to trial the program, known as the Granny Cloud in the UK.
At Darren’s school, about 100 of the 500 students are part of the intensive English program, which focuses on acquiring conversational English and literacy.
‘God has just taken this and blessed our involvement’, Gill says. The outcome has been beyond their expectations. The program also has been greatly appreciated by the students, 80 per cent of whom are refugees. And the ‘grannies’ were thrilled when they were finally able to meet the students late last year.
Contact Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help the program.
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