"Grand-Friends"

5th Grade Students from Tootin’ Hills School form lasting Friendships

with McLean Residents

 Collaboration between Tootin’ Hills Elementary School and McLean, started back in in 2007 when 5th grade teacher, Karen Barton, felt strongly that education was not just about reading, writing and math. She wanted to create a service-learning experience that encourages social growth and ethical behavior for her students.

“Children at this age need to start to “give back,” participate in their community and extend themselves beyond their own worlds. The “Grand-Friends” program helps them understand the value of people of all ages” says 5th grade teacher, Karen Barton, who organizes the program between Tootin’ Hills School and McLean each year. 

Students from the fifth grade classes visit McLean three times a year, partnering with residents to engage in different activities each time – from interviewing their designated grand-friend and writing a corresponding essay, to collaboratively writing poetry. Students celebrate the friendships they’ve built during the year by performing their spring choral concert for the McLean community in the central lobby during their third visit.

This year, McLean residents anticipated their Tootin’ Hills friends and many waited in the lobby close to an hour ahead of the scheduled concert time – as they were looking forward to not only the choral concert but seeing their young friends.