Judy Riley is a first grade teacher at the Fairfield School in Saco, ME. Prior to taking her current teaching position, Ms. Riley taught at another school in Maine that had been a site for the Foster Grandparent Program. The Foster Grandparent Program recruits people, age 60 and over, to work with at-risk children to support quality education.
The purpose of the Foster Grandparent Program's "America Reads Initiative," in Saco is to improve reading and comprehension among at-risk first and second grade students. Testing scores indicate that 40% of first graders and 43% of second graders in Saco tested below grade level.
Upon taking her position in the Saco School System, Ms. Riley discovered that the Foster Grandparent Program did not yet exist there. She asked the Saco School System administration to work with her to bring the program there. She organized the initial meetings and prepared the application for funding from the Corporation for National Service, under the president's "America Reads Initiative." The funding was awarded and the program began in fall 1997. Ms. Riley is the site coordinator for her school. She works with the school principal, participating teachers, grandparents and the program coordinator to make sure it is a positive experience for all, especially the children. Ms. Riley helps develop training, troubleshoots concerns and serves as an advocate for the Foster Grandparent Program in the community.