CONWAY, Ark. – Her name is Earnestine Johnson, but students at Conway’s Marguerite Vann Elementary School know her as Grandma Johnson. 

“She helps me read,” 1st Grade Student DaKayla Frazier said. “I learn new books from her.” 

Johnson is part of the Department of Human Services Foster Grandparent Program. It’s where seniors 55 and older volunteer in the classroom, mentoring and giving one-on-one attention to students who may need extra help learning. It’s also a chance to help bridge the gap of inter-generational learning. 

“To see those little ones smiling at the end of the day, it’s fulfilling,” Grandma Johnson said. “You say, ‘Boy, I helped out with reading today. I helped out with working a problem today’ and it’s enjoyment out of it.” 

The Foster Grandparent Program is currently in 33 Arkansas counties. It has been at Marguerite Vann Elementary school for the past 14 years. 

Another grandma who the students have developed a special bond with is Grandma Patsy.  

“Today she taught me about ABC’s. We connected the lowercase with the uppercase,” Kindergarten Student Olive said. 

“I enjoy the children interactions and helping them. I love to help them, see them improve,” Grandma Patsy Earnhart said. 

DHS said this program has proven to not only impact the overall health of the grandparents, but it has also improved learning in the classroom.

Click here for more information on how you can become a Foster Grandparent.