Experience Corps Opens Doors for Young and Old Alike
In 1998, GHCC founded the Experience Corps program in a small handful of Greater Homewood elementary schools. Since then, the program has expanded to 19 schools citywide and almost 400 older adult volunteers.
Experience Corps places adults over 55 in K-3 classrooms as mentors, a model that has increased test scores and improved school climate in Baltimore City schools where the program operates. Here we hear from Experience Corps memberRichard Przybyszewski, who volunteers at Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School #215 and was recently awarded an internship to teach in Poland this summer.
Submitted by Richard Przybyszewski
I spent over 20 years at Forbush High School at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, a Level 5 Special Education school. I never thought I would be setting foot in another classroom — let alone an elementary school classroom — until Experience Corps came along. It has been nearly four years now since I joined Experience Corps.
In making a decision to apply for the grant to study in Poland, it was my experience in Experience Corps that gave me the confidence to apply and realize I could offer students in Poland what I was experiencing in the classroom in Baltimore. Nothing can ever duplicate the experience of the cultural diversity at 215, along with the different levels of the students and their learning skills. Students with special needs along with students above their grade level. Then toss into the mix the learning curve I have experienced by sharing and observing with the wonderful teachers.
It is my understanding that over 700 people applied for the internship program with just about 60 applicants including myself accepted. My experience with Experience Corps became a large part of my final application.
My summer internship program is administered by the Koscziuszko Foundation, a Polish American philanthropic organization primarily for the advancement of Polish Americans and Polish culture. They have several exchange programs that last anywhere from several weeks a couple of years. Their programs range from medicine to the arts, politics, and education. I will be receiving college credit through a cooperative effort with Towson State University. My program lasts for a little over six weeks, starting in mid-July.
I start out with four weeks in Warsaw, the Polish capital, where I will be teaching elementary school students. My final weeks will be spent in Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, where I will be teaching English as a second language to Polish high school students.
My trip to Poland will also enable me to visit relatives and do some sight seeing. The Foundation gives me a stipend along with living expenses supplied by the Polish government during my stay. I have been to Poland several times in the past, but all while it was under Communist rule. This will be my first time back to Poland as a Democracy.