Experience Corps

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Thousands of experienced adults across the country are working to make a difference in their communities through the AARP Experience Corps program. Tempe’s AARP Experience Corps Volunteer Information Session will be held Thursday, May 7. We’ll show you how the program that pairs children with seniors is paying off in the classroom.

Ted Simons: Thousands of experienced adults across the country are working to make a difference in their communities through the program called Experience Corps I believe it's called. Christina Estes shows us how the effort is paying off in the classroom.

Video: They have lived in the world. These are some of the things we do. Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo! We have about 608 students here at Frank, pre-K to fifth grade.

Christina Estes: About 40 of them meet with their reading buddies twice a week. They are known as members of AARP's Experience Corps. Volunteers who are trained to help students read better.

Nat Tinkler: I've been involved for five years, this is my fifth year.

Christina Estes: Nat Tinkler is kind of the ringleader. He recruited 4 other retirees in the neighborhood.

Nat Tinkler: On your mark, get set, go. They are young, they are so impressionable, and they're that lot of fun. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.

Christina Estes: But this is more than a feel-good program according to the principal, Martha Jacobo-Smith.

Martha Jacobo-Smith : They do an amazing job, they read nonfiction text, they work on phonics, comprehension, fluency, text endurance. They ask all those important questions that children need to know in order to comprehend and grow academically.

Christina Estes: She says tests show students are improving their reading skills.

Nat Tinkler: Very good job.

Christina Estes: And there's another bonus. They are gaining confidence.

Martha Jacobo-Smith: We can see it in them, we can see the conversations they have with the tutors. Children are wanting to read more text. I've stopped in a few times when they are reading with the children. Children will be eager to share what they have read.

Video: Many people are afraid of sharks.

Howard Shapiro: I think it's important that especially the seniors who have the time should be able to offer our assistance, whether it be in a school setting or a business setting. It's important that we give back a little bit.

Christina Estes: While giving back in a priority for Howard Shapiro, he admits it's not all fun and games. Like most teachers he looks forward to summer break.

Howard Shapiro: Well, there's a lot of repetition. Everybody's different. We're going to read together, you and me at the same time. Those are baby turtles on that page. We'll get there in just a second. Did the pencil disappear again? Patience is key. Go ahead, read.

Christina Estes: The payoff comes from knowing they are making a difference.

Howard Shapiro: It gives you a sense that kids are going to be successful. They will be able to accomplish something.

Christina Estes: And sometimes it comes from learning new words.

Howard Shapiro: As one of my little girls says, easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Video: Yeah.

Christina Estes: These students and volunteers will share a lifelong lesson. That friendship, like reading, is fundamental.

Howard Shapiro: I was very proud of your reading today, it was very good.

Ted Simons: For more information check out Experience Corps' website at aarp.org/experience-corps.

Video: We want to hear from you. Submit your questions, comments and concerns via email at [email protected].

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon", there will be another update of the hearing for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and we'll visit the musical instruments museum as it celebrates it's fifth anniversary. That's on the next "Arizona Horizon." That's it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

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