When Laurisa Elhai appeared at an Experience Corps info session, the EC Team thought, “Hey, we know that face!” Sure enough, the interview and application process quickly revealed that Laurisa had recently retired from her role as School Nurse at William Land Elementary, an Experience Corps tutoring site in downtown Sacramento.
“I wanted to tutor students at William Land in reading, and knew Experience Corps was a good program here,” she says. EC Volunteers have been serving at this site since the program began 2016, clearly making a good impression. Laurisa also had another element of motivation to return to William Land after her retirement, though: “Also, my grandson entered Kindergarten there last September. I now spend more time there than when I worked there 1-2 days a week!”
Before her going-on-seventeen-year stint at William Land Elementary, Laurisa was a Nurse Practitioner in community clinics across Sacramento. She also worked as a Physician Assistant in an OB-GYN department, taught at a Midwifery School, and raised two kids of her own. It’s easy to guess that Laurisa really likes – and is really good at – taking care of others.
Despite all her experience with stitches and band-aids, though, she is still learning how to wrangle in a rowdy reading session. “My biggest challenge is reigning in squiggly first graders,” she says. “They are all great kids.”
It comes as no surprise that she’s figuring it out just fine. “My students love Ms. Elhai. She is super nice and patient with them,” says Ms. Huang, a first-grade teacher at William Land. “They have gained a lot of progress in reading by working with her.”
Thankfully, Laurisa is just as good at letting loose and having a fun time. She is not only a visual artist, but a puppet-maker as well – and she sometimes performs with her husband, who is a songwriter and musician himself. She loves picnicking and enjoying the outdoors with her family, whether the mountains or the ocean. But no matter how far she travels, she keeps coming back to William Land.