NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community creates real possibilities to strengthen America’s working and retired education community by protecting its financial security and fostering collaboration and volunteerism.
The NRTA With Our Youth! Program was established to provide opportunities for retired educators and youth to work together to address the needs of youth and the broader community. State and local retired educators association (REA) volunteers use the resources provided by NRTA to organize local self-sustaining service projects.
In 1997, NRTA made a three-year pledge at the President’s Summit for America’s Future to serve 1.5 million youth in 2,000 communities, with a total of 45 million service hours through the REAs. That goal was exceeded, and the program continues today. Each year, the organization provides national NRTA With Our Youth! volunteer awards to recognize the outstanding work of chapter units and local REAs as well as individual volunteers. More information is available here.
The recipients of NRTA’s 18th Annual With Our Youth! awards were chosen by an independent selection panel for their outstanding service to youth in the state, local and individual categories.
Alfred Campos, Director for NRTA: AARP's Educator Community, said about the award winners "NRTA salutes the 2018 NRTA With Our Youth! winners". They have made an invaluable contribution to the lives they have touched and the communities where they live. We celebrate their years of service to their students, families, and the education community. Retired educators nationwide look to them for inspiration."
2018 Excellence Award recipients include:
Joanne Ashby of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association. Joanne is a retired art teacher and a 25-year volunteer with the Kids Cancer Alliance. A cancer survivor, Joanne sees it as her true calling to give hope, joy and encouragement through art to children and families battling cancer. She spends three weeks at the Alliance's summer camps, crafting art projects to meet the needs of each patient. She also includes the siblings in the crafts, as they are often scared and worried for their loved ones. Her energy and empathy enrich the lives of children and families struggling through surgery, treatment and emotional trauma. As she shares her art projects, she helps them heal.
Joanne is the first prize winner, receiving the $250.00 grant for the Kids Cancer Alliance.
Betty Hill of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association. Betty is a long-time volunteer with Family Promise of Northern Kentucky, an organization that shelters homeless families with the help of local churches. For the past ten years, Betty has worked to ensure children have a safe, warm home. She shops for groceries to ensure the children have healthy meals, delivers a cake and organizes a celebration for every child's birthday, helps facility maintenance ensuring access to the building and cleaning, and serves as an overnight host to help with middle-of-the-night emergencies for the children and family members. Betty uses her 31 years classroom experience to work directly with the children to make them feel comfortable, safe and empowered.
Louise Parker of the Portsmouth Retired Educators Association. Louise works with the after-school program (Project HELP) to provide a clean and safe environment where students are able to receive assistance with homework, special projects and one-on-one support in any weak subject area. Project HELP transports the children from their homes or assigned school to the designated location from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday from October to May. The students are provided school supplies and snacks during each session. As a result of the program, the students make significant academic and social progress while their parents are encouraged to participate to celebrate progress. As a result, students are more successful in passing standardized and others tests appropriate for their grade level. Project HELP also helps to build character and self-esteem in each student.
For the past five years, 750 families have been involved in the program. For the families that stayed with the program, no student dropped out of school or was imprisoned. Four students graduated high school in May 2017, and many more will further their education and skills training or enter the military.
The Retired Education Personnel of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Retired educators embraced Books on the Bus (B.O.B.), a project to encourage reading among pre-K to sixth grade students. Retired teachers donated books for the bus rides to and from school. The collaborative effort was well received by principals, bus drivers and student leadership. In addition to boosting a love of reading, students step into leadership roles, storing and caring for the books, and switching texts each month to ensure each child gets their choice of book. B.O.B. also develops each child's self-esteem and responsibility.