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Giving Back: Eagle's Trace Residents Mentor Barbara Bush Elementary School Students

March 25, 2013

HOUSTON, TX---During his career as an engineer for a major international oil company, he interacted with colleagues who called him "Mr. Gillespie."
But now as a mentor to students at Barbara Bush Elementary School, he's simply "Mr. Jim."
Jim Gillespie, a resident of Eagle's Trace retirement community in West Houston, is one of thirteen volunteers who visit the school twice per month.  Most work with first grade students in small groups, reinforcing math lessons, while others volunteer in the classroom and library.
Sponsored by the Eagle's Trace Community Outreach Committee, the partnership benefits both the students and residents.   Their work is highlighted during April when National Volunteer Month is celebrated.
"It's an absolute joy to give back and interact with the first graders of Barbara Bush Elementary School," stated Mr. Gillespie.  "Because we are in the Energy Corridor, many of these students are from all parts of the world as their parents are employed in Houston.  By embracing the language and learning math skills, the children really show how sharp they are."
Pat Osborne agrees.  The Eagle's Trace resident helped to establish the partnership three years ago.  "The students are terrific.  At such an early grade level, they are already learning about fractions, geometry and metric conversions," she observed.
The residents receive lesson plans prior to their bi-weekly visit, maximizing the effectiveness of their 20-minute math sessions with the first-graders.
"Even with the teachers, we've shared life experiences," stated Ms. Osborne.  "They are tremendous influencers on our next generation of leaders."
In fact, Eagle's Trace hosted a dinner with five teachers on April 4th at its private dining room.   Rose Ennis is a first-grade teacher at Barbara Bush Elementary.   "The partnership has exceeded expectations because we did not realize how well the students would bond socially with the mentors," described Ms. Ennis.  "It is evident by their smiling faces when they hear it is 'Eagle's Trace Math Day' how quickly the students line up ready to head down the hallway.  Each step is driven by feelings of expectation and wonder."
"During their interaction, the residents always share anecdotal instances from their own lives when math has played a vital role," noted Ms. Ennis.  "We look forward to continuing this relationship with Eagle's Trace for many years to come."
About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment.  Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind.  Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits.  A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  For more information, please visit