Some of the most powerful lessons found in life often come from others. It may be from watching the example someone else sets or it may come from the simple act of taking the time to speak to another, but equally as important, taking the time to listen to another.
Twenty-two fifth grade students from the Sedalia Middle School were given a unique opportunity to participate in a new program that allows them to learn those life lessons from members of the greatest generation Wednesday morning.
The students traveled to Winchester Meadows Assisted Living to talk to residents at the facility about the experiences the residents have encountered in their lives as part of the “Words from the Wise” program.
“The residents here really have such a heart for giving back,” said Matthew Herren, counselor at SMS. “They have such huge hearts and such a concern for the younger generation.
“Every time I am here they consistently ask me how the students are,” Herren added. “Their desire to want to help with this project was overwhelming and I can’t thank them enough.”
Herren has firsthand experience working with the residents at Winchester Meadows because he serves as the chaplain at the facility.
“The residents here have such fascinating lives,” Herren said. “If you look around the room some of these individuals have owned their own businesses, they are educators, and pastors and railroad men.
“One of the husbands and wives who live here spent 25 years in Africa and that was back when you had to take a boat to get there,” Herren added with a laugh. “They come from such diverse backgrounds and they all have stories to tell.”
The students also come from diverse backgrounds and were eager to listen as well as tell their stories to the residents.
“Some of the students that are here today are student leaders, but others are incredibly shy and reserved,” SMS Principal Sara Pannier said. “After watching them interact in just this short time you realize it is the perfect symbiotic relationship for both the students and residents.”
The students were given a list of questions to ask the residents but it did not take long before they and their interview subjects decided the prepared questions were not necessary for a good conversation.
“Before we came we spoke to the students about several things especially dealing with the social aspect of the day,” Herren said. “We asked them to remember to say thank you and to sit up and look the person they were speaking to in the eye.
“We paired them in small groups and had them in a few areas so they could actually have conversations,” he added. “We are going to have to bring more students next month because this has been so successful.”
The program is scheduled to continue until the end of the school year.
“Our hopes are to come the first Wednesday of each month for an hour each time,” Herren added. “I really don’t think that these students can have a better history lesson that this opportunity to speak to these caring seniors.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484