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CHEYENNE - It's called "grandma school."

About 65 people over age 60 have signed up for the Southeast Wyoming Foster Grandparent Program in Laramie County. Participants meet once a month for training to be foster grandparents and are assigned to schools, Head Start of Laramie County, and the Boys and Girls Club of Cheyenne.

They can earn more than $900 a month tutoring and mentoring youngsters.

One requirement: They must love children.

"If you love kids, it's like breathing," Mary Herman said. "You walk in the class, and they say, 'There's Grandma Mary.' "

Herman, of Burns, helps students at Albin Elementary School in eastern Laramie County.

Edith Cook helps students at Anderson Elementary School in Cheyenne with their math. She said she likes getting to know other grandparents through the program.

"It keeps me on my toes," she said.

Besides earning a nontaxable stipend of $2.65 an hour, participants get help with transportation to volunteer sites. They also receive a yearly physical exam and daily meal.

Judith Johnston has been directing the program for 25 years.

"It gives them a reason to get out of bed," Johnston said. "You know you're needed and that youngsters appreciate it. I think it gives people the will to keep going."

The program is funded from federal sources and United Way of Laramie County.

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