Grandma Lennie Garrett is an amazing and loving individual who has volunteered twenty hours a week at Marion Anderson Elementary School, a title 1 school in the Sacramento Unified School District for the past 15 years. Her primary goals are to tutor and mentor second and third grade students in reading/English who have special needs. She helps these students in their academics but also teaches them to “learn to love to learn”. Garrett volunteers in a quadrant area where the classes that send student to her who are low/marginal achievers.
The students are having academic difficulties for many reasons. Some come from single parent households that may not encourage educational success; families where both parents work and may not have time/energy to assist with schoolwork; families who are very poor and may struggle to survive and therefore school is not a priority; and then among other things, families who may not speak English and cannot help with schoolwork.
Garrett ‘s overall impact is significant to the children, school, Foster Grandparent Program and the community. The children she works with look forward to seeing her. She works well one to one with students giving them the individual attention, which makes each child feel special resulting in improvement in reading and math skills. She works to enrich fluency reading and comprehension with children not meeting grade level standards. Garrett is instrumental in promoting phonics, sound segmentation, blending, and ensuring that students apply these skills when practicing their fluency reading for first, second and third grade.
Garret goes above and beyond by editing homework with students who have no one at home to help him or her. She also retests students and by her example serves as an exemplary role model for the children. With her calm and loving demeanor, she is able to manage student’s behavior in order to help them learn.
One of the main sources for recruitment for the Foster Grandparent Program is word of mouth. Garrett was one of the original Foster Grandparents at Marion Anderson Elementary School and at times they have had as many as 15 Foster Grandparents at that site and many of them through her direct or indirect efforts. Garrett, along with the teachers and staff provide an excellent learning environment.
Garrett embodies a servant in her daily life and recently received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteering more than 4,000 hours in a lifetime. She was honored by that recognition; however, she is most moved when fifth and sixth graders come across the campus and thank her for what she did for them. Their testimonies of success encourage her to continue on in her mission and add to her 15,000 hours of service.