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From reading to wisdom

Volunteers bestow more than lessons on Detroit children

Created date

October 25th, 2011

For decades, Bill Moran dedicated his life to education. He began his career as a teacher in Catholic schools and worked his way up to becoming principal. He then went on to work with student teachers at the University of Michigan. In 2004, Bill moved to Fox Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. Although he is officially retired, he still devotes time to teaching children to read thanks in large part to his worry-free lifestyle at Fox Run and a Detroit organization called City Mission.

Retired educators still teaching

Shortly after he moved to Fox Run, Bill attended a presentation by administrators from City Mission, a Detroit organization that provides tutoring and mentoring to children from low-income families. City Mission administrators were seeking older adults to provide intergenerational support to the students in their programs. Bill gathered about five of his Fox Run neighbors, some of whom are also former educators, and the group started tutoring once a week at City Mission. The Fox Run tutors spend a couple of hours working with the students in small groups. Bill says they focus on reading skills and tailor the lessons to whatever the kids are currently learning in their classrooms. You do see a good deal of progress as the kids move along, Bill says. And the teachers appreciate volunteers. Norma Arim, another Fox Run resident, taught primary school in Detroit for 32 years. Over the decades she has taught hundreds of children how to read. She says her career as a teacher was one of the most rewarding things in her life. I was proud of it, and I loved it, she says. Even today, reading is the prime interest I have. While she enjoys her well-deserved retirement, Norma says she was eager for an opportunity to continue using her teaching skills so she joined Bill s group of City Mission volunteers. I was doing something that was active and helpful, Norma says of the time she spent volunteering. If you re a good reading teacher and you instill that love for reading in children, they will probably succeed in anything they do because everything we do involves reading.

Kind of like grandparents

Bill says the Fox Run volunteers have gotten to know many of the City Mission children because they work with some of the same students year after year. So in addition to giving the children the tangible skill of reading, the volunteers also bestow something more intangible the wisdom and guidance that comes from spending time with an elder. The kids really enjoy the program, Bill says. We re kind of like grandparents to them, and they look forward to the day we come in.