Central New York, Education

Young and old work together in Syracuse city school classrooms

(C) 2018 Syracuse City School District. www.syracusecityschools.com.

Click the play button above to hear about Foster Grandparents in Syracuse.

Audio Transcript: Foster Grandparents

By Josh Widman SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Experience meets youth in Syracuse city schools thanks to Foster Grandparents. Foster Grandparents is a federally funded program that has been operating since 1965. This program is a part of Peace International. Peace International has been in Syracuse since 1972 and was founded as a domestic version of the Peace Corps.

To be a part of Foster Grandparents, volunteers have to meet certain requirements. “They have to be 55 years of age, and the second one is they have to meet an income eligibility guideline,” said Program Director Beth O’Hara. “That guideline is geared toward moderate-to-low-income senior citizens.”

The organization places most of the nearly 120 volunteers into elementary schools. Most of that pool is then placed into first and second grade classrooms. “I think they just wanna be involved,” said O’Hara. “A lot of our foster grandparents that are active now have grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

For the first and second graders, the volunteers focus on social and emotional behavior. “Keeping the children on task, offering guidance, helping them practice their lessons, keeping them focused, reinforcing basic skills,” said O’Hara. “Another set of eyes and ears in the classroom.”

The remaining volunteers are placed in “Head Start” classrooms where they work with two-, three- and four-year-olds. They help prepare the students for the jump to kindergarten. In both types of classrooms, the staff will target three to four students the foster grandparents will spend the most time with.

People can volunteer to become a foster grandparent by visiting www.peace-caa.org, completing the volunteer information sheet and either emailing it to Volunteer@peace-caa.org or mailing it to


Carolyn D. Brown
217 South Salina Street, 2nd Floor
Syracuse, NY 13202

Click the play button above to listen to the complete interview with Beth O’Hara

Audio transcript: Beth O’Hara transcript