S.A.G.E.'s Start to 2024

Congratulations to our 100+ Club! 🎊

During the 2022-2023 school year, twelve S.A.G.E volunteers gave over 100 hours of service to their volunteer assignment for a total of 1,770 hours. 

The Council Rock S.A.G.E. Volunteers who joined the 100+ Club were recognized by Dr. Andrew Sanko, CR School Superintendent, and the CR School Board President, Ed Salamon, at the August 2023 School Board Meeting. Each volunteer received public acknowledgment and a certificate of achievement for their time, effort, and services.

In addition, there are two more new 100+ Club S.A.G.E. volunteers. One volunteer hails from St. Andrew and the other one is from Hatboro-Horsham. Their schools acknowledged their service during an all-school assembly. 

  • Pictured below, from front row left to right — Dr. Sanko, Janice Margi, Sylvia Rosenberg, James Cohen, Nicholas Salvatore, Laurie Canfield, Peggy Ann Kirk, and Ed Salamon 
  • From back row left to right — Kathy Reeves & Beryl Katz from S.A.G.E. 
  • Not pictured — Bernie Cullen, Bonnie Webster, Diana Groden, Susan Wolbransky, Pat Fromal, & Lisa von Vital

Pictured below — Jen Schwyter, Kindergarten Teacher at St. Andrew & Lisa Von Vital, S.A.G.E. Volunteer

Welcome to the Team, Ashley Leyland!

Ashley has been working as the first Coordinator of Volunteers for our very first school district in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ashley received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Iowa in Environmental Science and spent her first years post-graduation working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducting environmental research. During that time she donated her time as a volunteer manager for a childcare program where she fell in love with the position and chose to leave the research world to pursue a career in volunteer coordinating. 

Her goals while working for S.A.G.E are to supply the best support she can so that both the teachers and volunteers can be as successful as possible in building relationships with the students. Having had wonderful mentors throughout her own life, she understands the tremendous difference they can have in a child's life. With this in mind, she aspires to build strong positive relationships between S.A.G.E and Council Bluffs as they join the community.

Ashley spent most of her life in New Hampshire and loves sipping a warm coffee on cool fall mornings. She enjoys spending time exploring Omaha while frequenting farmer's markets and local festivals with her husband and dog Luna. 

Welcome to the Team, Kathy Reeves!

Kathy's recent retirement marked the conclusion of her remarkable career as an expert in client engagement, spanning more than four decades during which she dedicated herself to establishing and nurturing robust connections with clients and stakeholders. Throughout her professional journey, she also embraced a lifelong commitment to volunteer work within the community, focusing on addressing issues like food insecurity, providing educational support, and fostering spiritual and overall well-being.

Kathy's journey to S.A.G.E was nothing short of serendipitous. Shortly before her retirement, a S.A.G.E. newsletter arrived in her inbox, containing a job posting for the Coordinator of Volunteer position. Within a matter of weeks, Kathy became a part of the S.A.G.E. team, considering her role within S.A.G.E. as the ideal way to embark on retirement. She will be collaborating with seniors who, like herself, are eager to share their life experiences and expertise with today's youth.

Q&A Time with S.A.G.E. Volunteers and Teachers

For this newsletter, we have two new S.A.G.E volunteers who are matched to the Art Teacher at St. Andrew Catholic Elementary School in Newtown, PA. Kudos to the art teacher as she knew that it takes a village to set up, prepare, and help the students enjoy being creative. Our new volunteers and the art teacher are sharing their experiences with you in this Q&A section.

S.A.G.E. Volunteer Q&A with Patty Gilbert

What motivated you to become a SAGE?

As a retired Pediatric and Neonatal nurse, I have always enjoyed working with children.  I felt it was a good way to give back to the St Andrew community.

Can you please share some of your personal and professional experiences.

I retired from nursing after 43 years.  I held various positions from staff nurse to Chief Nursing Executive. I had  a phenomenal career taking care of patients, their families,  and working with dedicated staff at various hospitals.  I enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, doing crafts and entertaining.  I volunteer for Project Hope at St Andrews parish coordinating team members to make meals, transport to doctor visits, transport to church and go grocery shopping.

How does your volunteer position match your expertise?

As a nurse I always enjoyed working and taking care of others.  This position helps me to assist the students in art class, which as a crafts person I really enjoy!

What is it like being a SAGE?  What do you do?

I assist Diane, the Art Teacher in the art class for 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades at St Andrews school.  I work with the students on various art projects.  At times, they need more assistance than others and I am an asset to Dianne.

What are some of the things you enjoy about being a SAGE?

I enjoy giving back to assist others in our community.  The students are so energetic when it comes to art and it’s exciting to see how well they do with their projects.  It’s a great pleasure to work with Dianne.  She truly engages with the students and teaches them about various aspects of art and the art masters.

What most surprised you about being a SAGE?

The one thing is that not all teachers enlist the support of the SAGE volunteers.  I think they would all like assistance in their classrooms.

What do you think the students learn from having you be a part of their educational experience?

The ability for me to assist them when they are struggling or have difficulty completing their projects.  They enjoy me being in the classroom so I can support them.

What have the students taught you?

How talented students are – in their designs and projects. 

 What do you most look forward to when volunteering?

Helping the students with their projects and coming to completion.

What advice do you have for other seniors considering becoming a SAGE?

It’s a very rewarding experience to volunteer your time with the students.  It’s not hard and you can offer whatever your amount of time you wish to give.  It’s a great avenue to give back to the community

S.A.G.E. Volunteer Q&A with Karen Huwyler

Q: What motivated you to become a S.A.G.E.?
A: I recently retired from my finance career and wanted to “give back” to my community. I enjoy working with children and the SAGE program gave me that opportunity.

Q: Can you please share some of your personal and professional experiences?
A: I had a 34-year career as a finance executive and certified public accountant in the pharmaceutical industry, culminating in the leadership of organizations of 100+ people located in the United States, Switzerland, and Singapore. One of my most important responsibilities throughout my career was the implementation of learning and development programs for our professionals, an activity I found especially rewarding. I served as a mentor to female professionals in the healthcare industry for the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and was a keynote speaker at various conferences.

After my retirement in 2018, I served on the Parent’s Council at Penn State University and as president of our shore community homeowners association. I also actively pursued my interest in creating fine art through study in pastel, watercolor and acrylic painting with several professional artists.

Q: How does your volunteer position match your expertise?

A: I raised two sons and am a grandmother of a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy. I’ve always enjoyed volunteering at my children’s schools.  I believe that my experiences as a parent/grandparent and as a mentor to the many young professionals I’ve worked with have helped me develop skills that are transferable to a grammar school classroom. My interest and training in art make this opportunity a particularly good fit. I enjoy working with a talented artist like Diane and being able to share my artistic sense with her students.

Q: What is it like being a S.A.G.E.?  What do you do?

A: I help Diane with prep work for class projects, hand out supplies and manage portfolios, monitor project work, provide hands-on assistance to the children, if needed, and help with clean up.

Q: What do you feel students learn from having you be a part of their educational experience?

A: I have been able to assist students having some challenges with projects. Having both Diane and me in the classroom helps to facilitate one-on-one support when it is needed. I believe the students also benefit from observing two adults working well together as a team. They know I’m there to help them and have often shown their appreciation for that.

Q: What have students taught you?

A: The students have taught me to fully appreciate the creativity of young minds! They also remind me of the importance of having fun while learning.

Q: What advice do you have for other seniors considering becoming a S.A.G.E.?

A: The teachers and students will greatly benefit from your willingness to help. There are so many ways to lend a hand. You have a lifetime of experiences to share, and you will find working with these young students will help you to remain young at heart.

S.A.G.E. Teacher Q&A with Ms. Diane DeRogatis

Q: What motivated you to become a S.A.G.E.?

A: I recently retired from my finance career and wanted to “give back” to my community. I enjoy working with children and the SAGE program gave me that opportunity.

Q: Can you please share some of your personal and professional experiences?

A: I had a 34-year career as a finance executive and certified public accountant in the pharmaceutical industry, culminating in the leadership of organizations of 100+ people located in the United States, Switzerland, and Singapore. One of my most important responsibilities throughout my career was the implementation of learning and development programs for our professionals, an activity I found especially rewarding. I served as a mentor to female professionals in the healthcare industry for the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and was a keynote speaker at various conferences. After my retirement in 2018, I served on the Parent’s Council at Penn State University and as president of our shore community homeowners association. I also actively pursued my interest in creating fine art through study in pastel, watercolor and acrylic painting with several professional artists. 

Q: How does your volunteer position match your expertise?

A: I raised two sons and am a grandmother of a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy. I’ve always enjoyed volunteering at my children’s schools. I believe that my experiences a parent/grandparent and as a mentor to the many young professionals I’ve worked with have helped me develop skills that are transferable to a grammar school classroom. My interest and training in art make this opportunity a particularly good fit. I enjoy working with a talented artist like Diane and being able to share my artistic sense with her students.

What is it like being a S.A.G.E.? What do you do?

A: I help Diane with prep work for class projects, hand out supplies and manage portfolios, monitor project work, provide hands-on assistance to the children, if needed, and help with clean up.

Q: What do you feel students learn from having you be a part of their educational experience?

A: I have been able to assist students having some challenges with projects. Having both Diane and me in the classroom helps to facilitate one-on-one support when it is needed. I believe the students also benefit from observing two adults working well together as a team. They know I’m there to help them and have often shown their appreciation for that.

Q: What have students taught you?

A: The students have taught me to fully appreciate the creativity of young minds! They also remind me of the importance of having fun while learning.

Q: What advice do you have for other seniors considering becoming a

S.A.G.E.?

A: The teachers and students will greatly benefit from your willingness to help. There are so many ways to lend a hand. You have a lifetime of experiences to share, and you will find working with these young students will help you to remain young at heart.

Q: What are some of the logistical benefits for teachers when working with

a S.A.G.E.?

A: It is always great to have another pair of hands and a set of eyes to help manage the classroom. Prep work is always a great help when S.A.G.E volunteers come into the classroom.

Q: What are some unexpected benefits you and your students experienced?

A: The involvement with the students is great. It allows me more time with individual students who may need some extra help. My volunteer is great with the students too when she sees I am working with another student.

Q: How does having a S.A.G.E. in the classroom enrich education?

A: Volunteers bring their own talents and skills to the classroom. There are things they contribute that enriches the class even more.

Q: What are some tips you would share with teachers new to S.A.G.E.?

A: Let them help! Give them the sometimes overwhelming prepping that sometimes you just can’t get to. Explain what will be happening in the class so they can jump in and help some of the students. The volunteers need to know the assignment or project.

S.A.G.E. Student Responses: About S.A.G.E. Volunteers

Q: What’s the best part about having a S.A.G.E. volunteer in the classroom?

Emily: She is nice and helps out a lot.

Aidan: She is very kind.

Q: What do you want other students to know about learning with a S.A.G.E.

volunteer?

Emily: Give her respect and listen when she talks.

Aidan: Treat her respectfully

Q: I look forward to the days of our S.A.G.E. volunteer visiting the

classroom because:

Emily: I look forward to her coming because the teacher doesn’t get overwhelmed. We have more time with a teacher.

Aidan: I like the conversations I have with Mrs. H.

Join the Council Rock North Speech & Debate Program!

Join our team, inspire young minds, and make a positive impact at the Council Rock North Speech & Debate Program. We need your passion and dedication to help students develop their public speaking and critical thinking skills this school year.

What we would need from you:

  • Volunteer alongside Speech and Debate Mentor, Mr. James Briski.
  • Mentor, coach, and guide students in weekly practices, following district standards.
  • Judge speeches and debates at competitions.
  • Commitment of 3 to 6 hours per week (depending on your availability). You pick either practice, competition, or BOTH practice and competition. You can pick either Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or both.
  • Transportation options for away competitions. We would need you to travel with the students on the school bus.

Other program details:

  • The program extends throughout the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Weekly practices and home competitions at Council Rock North High School.
  • Practice on Tuesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • Competitions on Wednesdays from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
  • In-person and virtual volunteer opportunities available.

What makes a good volunteer?

  • Open-minded and encouraging of diverse perspectives.
  • Flexible and adaptable.
  • Willingness to guide and mentor without being authoritarian.
  • Passion for developing communication and critical thinking skills.
  • No prior experience required; basic computer skills needed.

By volunteering, you'll nurture the next generation of debaters, enhance your coaching skills, and empower students. Contact Kathy Reeves at kathy@beasage.org to express your interest. 

October Annual PA Mandated Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse Recap

In October 2023, the Bucks County Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) provided Pennsylvania’s Annual Mandated Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse to our volunteers. By law, S.A.G.E. volunteers are mandated reporters who are legally required to report suspected child abuse if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse. 

As difficult as this subject is to learn about, it is critical to our children’s well-being, and for us to know how to identify and respond to child abuse when we notice it. Each year at least 1 in 6 children have been sexually abused.

In the past, volunteers would report suspected child abuse to a teacher or someone else in charge within the school, camp, or sports practice. Now, the volunteer is required to report the suspected child abuse directly to the state. 

During this extensive training, the volunteers learned that the law requires any volunteer who has direct contact with children and reasonably believes that a child is the victim of abuse, must immediately report it to the appropriate authorities. Mandated reporters, including volunteers, are obligated to make these reports to protect the well-being of the child. Failing to report suspected child abuse is a violation of the law and may result in legal consequences. Volunteers must be aware of their responsibility to report any suspicions of child abuse promptly.

The NOVA trainers presented this information to the S.A.G.E. volunteers directly and emphasized the importance of taking the mandated reporting process seriously.

For more information on child abuse and PA-mandated reporting of child abuse, please connect with Mandated Reporters FAQ’s or the PA Child Welfare Information Solution.

To report suspected child abuse please call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 or report electronically at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis

November Cyberbullying Webinar Recap

In early November, the NOVA Bucks County Chapter conducted a webinar titled "Discussing Online Exploitation with Our Children, commonly known as cyberbullying."

According to www.KidsHealth.org, cyberbullying involves using technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target others. This includes online threats, aggressive texts, tweets, posts, or messages, as well as sharing personal information, pictures, or videos to cause harm or embarrassment. It encompasses any online content meant to hurt, harass, or upset someone, often from an anonymous or falsely represented source.

While the training addressed the challenging aspects of the topic, it significantly impacted S.A.G.E. volunteers. Despite the alarming nature of cyberbullying, the session provided reassurance that assistance is available, offering hope for safeguarding our children and grandchildren. Key insights from the training include:

  • Recognizing the significance of mobile phones in teens' social connections. It's essential to avoid using the phone for behavior modification, as it can potentially do more harm than good.
  • Adults should refrain from passing judgment, opting for terms like "safe" or "not safe" instead of "good" or "bad."
  • Initiate conversations early and consistently, aiming to understand without passing judgment.
  • Become one of the five trusted adults in a child's life.

For additional information, please reach out to NOVA:

  • General information: Call 215-343-6543 or email info@novabucks.org
  • 24-hour helpline: Call 1-800-675-6900
  • Text at 267-323-4545

A S.A.G.E. Therapy Dog: Butters 🐾🐶

A S.A.G.E. volunteer, Cheryl Lastowka, works with her therapy dog, Butters, at Crooked Billet School in the Hatboro Horsham school district.

Donate to Help Support Our Mission!

Our Board aims to continue sparking unique and meaningful intergenerational relationships every single day. Your generosity provides us with the tools to expand this mission. 

To make a one-time or monthly donation, visit the donation page on our website.

Volunteers: Share Your Story on Our Website! 💻

And that's a wrap! 2022 is over, but we'd love to hear about your S.A.G.E. experiences over the last year. Share your volunteer story with us on our website!

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