SOURCE: Oakwood Common

Oakwood Common

May 08, 2017 16:15 ET

Reading spells fun and friendship between elementary students and older adults

DEARBORN, MI--(Marketwired - May 8, 2017) - On a recent Friday afternoon when Oakwood Common's passenger coach pulled up to the entrance of Dearborn Public School's Geer Park Elementary, a group of students eagerly greeted residents from the Dearborn retirement community.

Among students welcoming their guests were fourth grader Troy Singleton and third grader Ryan Albasrawi, who led seniors to the Media room.

It was obvious the seniors and students already knew each other. They quickly partnered up to select books to read together.

The reading partnership is part of a program initiated by Shavon Baker, Oakwood Common's activities supervisor with Dr. Jill Chocol, Executive Director of Student Achievement for Dearborn Public Schools.

"We have many residents who look forward to participating in volunteer activities like this in our community," said Baker. "This is a wonderful intergenerational opportunity and a win-win for everyone."

The volunteers agree. For Irene Galeota, it brought back memories of her experience teaching English as a second language for 22 years at Grosse Pointe South High School.

"During that time, many of the students I helped were from Cambodia," said Galeota.

Many of the seniors, who visit the school once or twice a month, were surprised to discover how well the students read. When asked how students were selected to participate, school social worker Tiera Couch shared that teachers picked students who liked the idea of reading with seniors and volunteered.

In addition to reading together in the Media room, students enjoy taking their reading partners on tours of the school, visiting classrooms, gym and music room.

In exchange, students recently took a field trip to Oakwood Common for a pizza party and campus tour with their new friends and reading partners.

After taking the elevator up to a third floor apartment, touring the campus Bistro, library, post office, hair salon, movie theater, exercise room and other living areas, student Madison Howell said, "It's a lot bigger than our school."

The partnership between residents and students will continue through the remainder of the school year.

"It's been so successful, we look forward to continuing our partnership next year," added Baker.

"Our partnership with our community seniors has been a valuable and necessary experience with our kids. Every school should have a program like this," said Lamis Srour, principal of Geer Park Elementary. "We feel these relationships will result in our youth becoming healthy, compassionate and service-minded adults."

Oakwood Common, a Beaumont community, offers one and two bedroom senior living apartments located at 16351 Rotunda Drive, within a beautiful 29-acre community that includes exquisite landscaping, nature trails and scenic views along the historic Rouge River Gateway in Dearborn. Oakwood Common apartments, available with flexible payment options, offer exceptional amenities for independent living and can be readily customized. Assisted living and a comprehensive rehabilitation and skilled nursing center, part of Beaumont Health, are also available for those with additional needs. For more information and to arrange tours, call 800-642-4663 or visit

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