The recent Head Start graduations were meaningful not just for the students advancing to kindergarten but also for CCANO’s Foster Grandparents. Among the supportive families, a group of Foster Grandparents including Wilma McCaskill cheered with pride as the students walked the stage to accept their certifications.
After retiring in 2008, Wilma found herself sitting at home bored and looking to fill her free time with purpose and meaning. A friend from St. Jude told her about the Foster Grandparents program, and she thought it would be a great fit, saying, “I’ve always loved kids, and I just had to get out of the house. Now, I look forward to coming to school, and the students are always on my mind.”
Priscilla Mantilla, Foster Grandparents Program Director, explains, “Each Foster Grandparent assists with two students. They have work performance goals set at the beginning of the year to prepare their students for school. There are regular evaluations to determine if the students have good attendance and academic growth.”
Wilma goes above and beyond to ensure her students feel included and have a joyous childhood. She is valued for knowing the students’ personalities and preferences, making her a trusted member of the Head Start community by staff and students alike. If Lea is having a rough morning, Wilma knows what calms her down versus what would work best for Zoe. For instance, when the Breakfast with Dad event ended, Zoe started crying because her dad was leaving. After finding Ms. Wilma, Zoe stopped crying, reassured that Ms. Wilma was there for support.
Priscilla is proud to have Wilma on the team, sharing, “Wilma is always up to the task and willing to get things done. She’s got a positive attitude and doesn’t let anything stop her. She’s very compassionate and sympathetic. She goes shopping for special clothes for the students whose families don’t have room in the budget for presents and holiday treats.”
Thank you, Wilma, for all that you do for our Head Start students! Learn more about Foster Grandparents here.