Retirees sought to help teachers in area schools - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Retirees sought to help teachers in area schools

August 20th, 2019 development
Retirees sought to help teachers in area schools

SanTan Sun News Staff


With a renewed focus on student academic growth, particularly in literacy and math skills, Your Experience Counts (YEC) is actively recruiting classroom volunteers to support students and teachers in the Mesa Public Schools for the 2019-2020 school year.  

Teaching experience is not a requirement to be an effective volunteer supporting student learning.  

“We value life and work experiences, a passion for helping children learn and an interest in specific subject areas,” said Mike Beardslee, educational programs manager.  

“We provide the training to boost volunteers’ confidence and capabilities to support the classroom learning environment; and techniques and strategies for reading, math and other interventions.”  

YEC is a program of HandsOn Greater Phoenix.

 Peggy Brehm is an example of a YEC volunteer “utilizing life and career experiences to become a highly valued and successful classroom assistant,” Beardslee said. 

 A retired Honeywell computer programmer doing engineering applications, Brehm served two classrooms last year at Mesa’s Crismon Elementary. 

 In both classes, teacher Carrie Cicotte’s third grade and Bethany DeWitt’s sixth grade, Brehm worked with students in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, leading projects and providing small group support in coding and math.  

Cicotte said Brehm “enriches my students’ learning experiences. She works with struggling students specifically in math. And she has implemented all science units. 

“Her skills as an engineer and travel experiences encourage academic rich conversations that allow students to gain knowledge about cultures and technology,” Cicotte added.

DeWitt said, “Peggy has been a great asset. She helps with math and coding working with both advanced kids and those who are stuck. My students look forward to seeing her each week.”

Brehm’s third grade students also appreciated her time and commitment to student growth.  

Among the notes she received came from a third grade girl at the end of the year who wrote: “Thanks, I learned from my mistakes because of you.” 

  Another girl wrote, “I was so happy because you were there when we did the paintings…I was really proud of my work because of you.”  

A third grade boy said, “It is fun doing stuff with you because you help us if we don’t get something.”

Preparing for her seventh year with YEC, Brehm said she signed up as a volunteer “because I had the time and wanted to do something totally unlike computer programming, something with a lot of human interaction.” 

 “I love interacting with the students, watching them grow, feeling their enthusiasm especially when they ‘get’ something they had been unclear about.”

YEC recruits and trains volunteers to serve high-needs schools in five districts – Mesa, Balsz, Osborn, Washington and Dysart.

  Many volunteers are retired from business, military or education; and some are stay-at-home moms, college students or work part-time.  

YEC volunteers typically spend one or two days, two to 10 hours a week in classrooms. Volunteers interested in literacy will be matched with a teacher in grades 1-3; those interested in math or STEAM will work with a teacher in grades 4-8.  

Training dates for the 2019-20 school year have been setin Phoenix area Aug. 27-28 and in Mesa Sept. 18-19. 

Information: Mike Beardslee,; 623-223-9248; or