Bipeds of Brookland: Gwen Foster
Gwen Foster visited family in DC in 1979 and told her parents she wanted to move here, they replied, ‘You must be crazy!” She was raised in a family of teachers in Charleston, West Virginia. After graduating from West Virginia State University and teaching for ten years, she moved to DC, soon got married and was eventually hired at Francis Scott Key Elementary. She taught fourth grade there until her husband became ill and she retired in 2009. She cared for him for six years until he passed away.
After retirement “I wanted to do something that would help the neighborhood, and be involved.” She became a volunteer at HSC Pediatric Center. “I do morning with the group. (SenseAbilities Program) That’s my love, working with children. That's why I love working here at HSC. I taught 40 years and I loved it.” The SenseAbilities Program provides daily therapeutic activities to enhance the daily experience for groups of children who live at HSC, including: Movement Time, Music/Instrument Time, Water Play, Arts & Crafts, and Story Time related to a weekly theme. “I think the program that they have here reminds me so much of my experience in the classroom. I enjoy the music, I perform.”
Gwen always used music in the classroom when she could and proudly remembers when her students the Manzari Brothers danced as part of their performance for their state report, before becoming professional tap dancers. She nurtured her son Huling Foster’s interest in performing, and he is now an actor starring in a tribute to Abbey Lincoln at the Metropolitan Room in NYC.
Gwen enjoys traveling with her cousins. “I went on a trip with them and their friend and he became my husband. That’s been only 6 months. He had retired to Florida and I wasn’t going anywhere.” So her new husband moved back to DC. “We love it over here. I don’t want to leave my home here in this area. My neighbors are lovely.”
Bipeds of Brookland: A weekly series introducing the people who make Brookland their home, one step at a time.
Article and photo by Tom Sabella