At Age 87, Mary Freeman Finds Her Way Back to the Classroom

Mrs. Freeman thought her days in the classroom had ended until a collaboration between Aviv Centers for Living and the NSJCC presented new opportunities.

By Amy Sessler Powell

Mary Freeman thought her days in the classroom had ended many years ago when she retired from the Salem school system. But, at age 87, Mrs. Freeman is back in the classroom, thanks to the intergenerational opportunities at the new Waldfogel Health Center at Aviv Centers for Living’s Peabody campus.

In September, the North Suburban Jewish Community Center opened its preschool inside Waldfogel, providing a vast array of opportunities for residents to interact with young children on a daily basis.

“They are so cute. They are just like little dolls,” said Mrs. Freeman, who read them a story about animals preparing for the winter. “I can’t remember the last time I was in the classroom.”

Mrs. Freeman and her husband, John, will be visiting the preschool every Tuesday to read to the children.

Ellen Gordon, community relations coordinator for Aviv said, “You can see what a wonderful teacher she must have been. She chats with the children and had a warm and loving way with them.”

The Aviv campus is organized so that residents have numerous opportunities to interact with the young preschool children and other community members who visit for the programs that occur there all week.

“That is Aviv. Mrs. Freeman working with the kids and the kids learning from her was absolutely what Aviv dreamed of when we incorporated the NSJCC Early Childhood Learning Center into the new building design” said Stephen H. Neff, Aviv’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Some residents sit outside, weather permitting, and watch the children play while others enjoy watching from the large glass windows. The residents and children celebrate the Sabbath together each week and all their birthdays.

Mrs. Freeman is just the first of many residents who will visit the preschool on a regular basis to read and help in any way they can.

For more information or to explore volunteer opportunities, please visit www.avivliving.org

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