“Grandma” Gloria Walker, 90, threw first grade classes at John Wickes Elementary an “End of the Year Graduation into Second Grade party” on Monday. In a way it was also a goodbye party.
“Kids are like animals; they know if you like them instantly,” said Grandma Gloria.
Walker joined the Foster Grandparent Program 17 years ago while her husband was in a nursing home just so she’d have something to do. It’s a decision she’s never regretted. She has every intention of continuing as a foster grandparent, although Wickes School is closing for good as a part of elementary school consolidations this week. She’s not sure where she’ll end up, but she knows she wants to work with children.
“Working with Gloria is a treat and an adventure,” said Principal Roy Costa. “You never know what she’ll say.”
She reports to John Wickes School three times a week, working all day even though the program suggests four hours. She said she receives a payment for expenses that amounts to around $8 a day.
Grandma Gloria provided pizza, popcorn and drinks for the three classrooms. She even brought along little containers to take the leftover food home.
She has been working with Jennifer Travison, first grade teacher at John Wickes, in her classroom for 10 years. She said Grandma Gloria always has an amazing attitude for the children. Travison also says how much she will miss bouncing ideas around with her for creative activities.
“She is very uplifting, happy and positive” said Travison. “She’s amazing with the kids, she loves them.”
Grandma Gloria listens and helps up to 50 first grade students. She encourages them to come talk to her whenever they are having trouble in school, or at home. She is deeply saddened having to leave some of her children behind with the consolidation of schools.
Many students remember Grandma Gloria. Recently, she saw one of her former kids in a local Dunkin Donuts, and the girl remembered who she was.
Having such an impact on these students, Grandma Gloria didn’t want to leave any of them behind. But, in the fall she will be bringing her perky personality to a Warwick school. She’s just not sure what school.
“I will be lost without her next year,” said Travison.