As the school year gets into full swing, many people are looking for ways to support local children and students. However, seniors at Buckner Parkway Place in Houston are taking a different approach by making sure the teachers start the school year on the right foot too.
Parkway Place is home to nearly 30 retired teachers ranging from just a few years to decades of teaching experience. To celebrate their shared background, the group met for a “Teacher Reunion” where they shared stories from their careers and spent time writing handmade cards for teachers at nearby Barbara Bush Elementary School. After the activity, the retired teachers visited the school with the notes and cookies to encourage the teachers in their new school year. They offered support and advice, as well as the camaraderie only former teachers can share. The seniors hoped to bring joy to the teachers, just like the teachers do for their students daily.
Parkway Place resident Ray Vigneault became a teacher as a second career after retiring from working in the oil business. He taught high school chemistry in the Spring Branch Independent School District for several years before permanently retiring, but this wasn’t Vigneault’s first teaching assignmet. He started lecturing as a graduate student and always felt he had a natural talent for teaching.
“I know that kids are a lot different today than they were when I taught, but teachers still face the same challenges,” Vigneault said. “We wanted to be good neighbors to the school near us and let them know we, as former teachers, support the valuable effort they put in day in and day out.”
Parkway Place works with the school throughout the year to host intergenerational activities at both the community and the school. During Veterans Day, many residents attend and are honored during the school assembly. A few of the seniors also tutor the children. The relationship is a great way for the seniors and children to learn about other generations and make new connections in the greater community.
“We really enjoy having the school so close to our campus and thought this was a different way to celebrate the start of the school year for both the residents and the teachers,” said Sunny Chatagnier, executive director of Parkway Place. “We know teachers don’t always receive as much support as they should, and we want to make sure they feel supported as the school year begins. We always look for opportunities to use each resident’s interests and passions to fuel our activities and outreach enjoyed making these teachers feel special in this unique way.”