Bucks County 5th grade teacher forms special connection with senior center

"It kind of reminds you about what's really important in education," said Jared Hottenstein.
WARWICK TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- For the 5th graders at Jamison Elementary within the Central Bucks School District, the best field trip is right down the block when they get a window into the lives of their neighbors.

"Oh! They all have hearts," exclaimed Marge Manly as she watched the kids draw Valentine's Day messages in chalk from a floor-to-ceiling window at the Bridges of Warwick living community.

"It's just delightful to see the young people and they're very talented," said another resident Naomi Yeoman.

"All these social, emotional learning lessons that we teach at school, it's played out when kids are thrown into uncomfortable situations like trying to dialogue and interact with someone who's older," said Jared Hottenstein, a 5th grade teacher at the school.

He started bringing his class to the senior home five years ago.

During the pandemic, the kids waved from the courtyard and drew on windows rather than visiting the seniors face-to-face.

"You think about the residents here, they didn't have any interaction through COVID," he said. "If we could just put a smile on their face, it's all worth it."

Before Hottenstein started this project, he already knew two things: that these visits would bring the seniors a lot of cheer and they would teach kids important life lessons.

What he didn't count on, however, is how they would affect him, personally.

"I think it's rejuvenated me as a teacher. It kind of reminds you about what's really important in education," he said. "It's teaching kids how to build connections and forge connections with people who are different."

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