Foster grandparents retire

Marcia Ferris and Elementary Principal Andy Dokken stand behind Joann Oaks and Dennis and Audrey Bistodeau.

Three Foster Grandparents, Joann Oaks and Dennis and Audrey Bistodeau, recently retired from Rippleside Elementary School after 12 years, 15 years and 20 years, respectively.

Foster Grandparents at Rippleside work either one-on-one with students or with groups, and they coordinate with teachers to decide what they’ll be doing and who they’ll be working with on any given day.

“The teacher would assign me students and I’d go to the media center and work with them,” said Dennis, “If they were behind on their work I’d help them catch up, whatever they needed.”

The students who worked with the Foster Grandparents were enthusiastic to do so.

“When you’ve been doing it for so many years, the students want to work with you,” said Oaks.

“I love visiting,” commented Audrey, “When we walk down the hall, all the kids are going ‘Hi, grandma, hi, grandpa’.”

Elementary Principal Andy Dokken commented on the importance of such connections, as some kids may not have one like that outside of school.

The work done by Foster Grandparents shows on student grades as well.

“There’s almost always progress,” said Marcia Ferris, “Significant progress sometimes. And teachers attribute it to that extra, consistent effort.”

The school is always looking for more help, and encourages retirees to inquire about becoming a Foster Grandparent by visiting the school, emailing Ferris at, or calling her at 218-839-6650. Rippleside asks for 10+ hours per week.

Foster Grandparents receive a tax-free stipend as well as mileage, meals and the knowledge that “you are making a difference in the lives of children.”

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