Business and Professional
September 22, 2016
As the school year gets into full swing, many people are looking for ways to support children in their area. Seniors in Houston are taking a different approach by making sure the teachers start the school year on the right foot too. Parkway Place senior living community is home to nearly 30 retired teachers ranging from just a few years of experience to decades of teaching. To celebrate their shared background, the group will be meeting in Parkway Place's Cabana Room on Sept. 12 at 10:30 a.m. for a "Teacher Reunion." Together, they will share stories from their careers and spend time writing handmade cards for teachers at nearby Barbara Bush Elementary School (13800 Westerloch Drive in Houston). After the activity, the retired teachers will visit the school with notes and cookies in hand to encourage the teachers as they begin their school year. They will offer support and advice, as well as provide common understanding and camaraderie that only former teachers possess. The seniors hope to bring joy to their lives, 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 ISD for several school years before permanently retiring, but this wasn't Vigneault's first teaching gig. He started lecturing as a graduate student and always felt he had a natural talent for teaching.
"I worked in marketing and research most of my life, and speaking to people is what I always enjoyed doing most," said Vigneault. "I know that kids are a lot different today than they were when I taught, but teachers still face the same challenges. 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 work with the children to tutor them in a particular subject. 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, and can't wait to make these teachers feel special in this unique way. "