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PHS Foster Grandparent ‘Mr. Al’ Tutors and Mentors Students

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PHS Foster Grandparent ‘Mr. Al’ Tutors and Mentors Students
Posted on 04/14/2016
This is the image for the news article titled PHS Foster Grandparent ‘Mr. Al’ Tutors and Mentors StudentsThe Portland Public Schools is grateful for the Foster Grandparent Program, through which adults age 55+  volunteer to mentor and tutor students under the supervision of teachers and staff. One such outstanding Foster Grandparent is Al Hodder, who works with students at Portland High School.

Here’s a profile of Al Hodder, role model and mentor, as provided by Opportunity Alliance, which sponsors the Foster Grandparent program:

“Expect the unexpected” was the first piece of advice Foster Grandparent Al Hodder received as he prepared for his first day volunteering with English language learners at Portland High School. Within minutes of Al being introduced to the classroom, a girl rushed over to him to ask for help on a paper. Without having much background on the subject, Hodder dove right in, helping her research, plan and edit her paper. From that moment on he was hooked, enthusiastically anticipating each new day and challenge as a Foster Grandparent.

“Mr. Al,” as he is known by his students, volunteers with the Foster Grandparent Program, a national program sponsored in Maine by the Opportunity Alliance. Foster Grandparents is a program in which volunteers who are 55 and older serve 15-40 hours a week in local schools, Head Start programs and child development centers across York, Cumberland and Southern Oxford counties. All Foster Grandparents receive training, supervision and recognition. Income eligible volunteers receive a nontaxable stipend, meals and mileage reimbursements.

While most Foster Grandparents volunteer with primary-school age children, supporting the students as they learn how to read and solve math problems, Hodder’s situation is unique in that he is able to provide not only assistance with paper writing or math classes, but he also can be a mentor to students who are navigating the complex world of applying to college, helping them formulate personal statements and apply for scholarships. In the classroom Hodder provides crucial academic and social support to students new to American culture and the English language. As Hodder’s teacher tells him, “I could not run my classroom without your help, Al.”

The gratification in volunteering happens every day when Hodder sees his students in the hall or on the streets of Portland. His students run to greet him or excitedly introduce him to their family members. He has been fortunate to have seen a few of his students become United States citizens, a huge milestone in the lives of new Americans. For Hodder his enjoyment comes from watching students progress each and every day.

To learn more about volunteering with the Foster Grandparent Program call 207-773-0202 or email us at fgp@opportunityalliance.org.