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Castor’s Classroom Companions Connecting Seniors & Students

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Castor’s Classroom Companions Sending Seniors into Local School
Serving as Tutors and Mentors 

Teachers and students at a local school are receiving an extra pair of helpful hands in the classroom thanks to a partnership between the City of Tampa and Seniors in Service. The new Castor’s Classroom Companions initiative provides funding to place six seniors, who serve as tutors and mentors to vulnerable students, inside of six classrooms at B.T. Washington Elementary School.  

These classroom companions will spend up to 30 hours per week in the same classroom for the entire school year, providing consistent one-on-one and small group tutoring for students who may easily fall behind. Volunteers can listen to their stories, calm their anxiety, defuse their frustrations and offer the love they need. They are considered to be a consistent, trusted adult who the students can rely on for support. 

“We know students have faced significant learning challenges after two years of disrupted education due to the pandemic,” Mayor Jane Castor said. “Having classroom companions here at B.T. Washington will provide extra support to kids and educators with one-on-one tutoring and mentoring. The relationships they form here will make a lasting positive impact for years to come.” 

“We applaud the City of Tampa Mayor’s Office for funding this initiative and investing in the success of students at B.T. Washington Elementary,” said Robin Ingles, CEO of Seniors in Service. “We’ve seen first-hand how one-on-one attention from a caring adult can help vulnerable students develop confidence and increase their motivation to learn. They are a consistent, trusted, adult the students can rely on for support.”  

The funding provided by the City of Tampa will include a stipend of $3.00 per hour for the classroom companions, as well as mileage to and from B.T. Washington Elementary, a meal allowance while volunteering and 12 trainings throughout the year that include best practices to teach literacy, social emotional learning and how to use technology.

The classroom companions at B.T. Washington are part of a larger team of more than 160 Seniors in Service foster grandparent volunteers who are successfully serving as tutors and mentors in Pre-K through 3rd grade classrooms throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough County. Each year, they help more than 750 children develop their literacy and social-emotional skills to start them on a pathway for a lifetime of learning. 
The funding from the City of Tampa will help offset the costs associated with administering the program, which includes background checks, training resources, classroom materials, and stipends. 

The City of Tampa hopes to expand the initiative in the coming years to help Seniors in Service place more seniors in classrooms at schools throughout Tampa.