For seven years, Brown has volunteered every day, all day, at Elms Road Elementary School. On Fridays, his golden retriever, Buster, tags along.
“I don’t know what I’d do without him,” said Elms Road principal Jim Kitchen.
For his dedication, Brown received the James T. Dover Outstanding Senior award from Priority Children, a coalition of community leaders dedicated to improving life for area youth.
Priority Children leaders presented the award at the Children’s Champion breakfast Wednesday, Feb. 8.
Brown began volunteering at the school when his grandson, Ryan Brown, entered first grade. Ryan now is a seventh grader. Ryan’s sister, Taryn, is a fourth-grade student at Elms Road.
“My wife, Cheryl, started taking care of our grandson when he was 1 or 2 years old,” said Brown. “I thought, gee, that looks like a pretty good job. That’s why I retired.”
When the kids started school, Brown began volunteering in order to spend more time with them.
Cheryl Brown now works as an aide at the Child Development Center and also volunteers with the schools.
Jerry Brown spends his days in the walls of Elms Road. Perched at a pintsized table, he helps pupils with reading, math and spelling. He also helps with lunchtime activities, and he’s known for giving the kids a boost as they sled down the hill during lunch recess.
“Mostly the work is one-on-one,” said Brown. “Sometimes I work with two kids. They’re totally focused on you, so you try to make it fun while you’re teaching them something. There are different games you can play with math or reading, or it’s in how you read a book in a funny voice to make it more interesting.
“Most kids know it’s OK to have a good time but you’re out in the hallway to learn something. The benefit is in seeing that one child all of a sudden catch on to multiplication or something where he might have struggled for two months then, all of a sudden, bingo!”
Taryn said she likes having her grandpa at school all day because it keeps her out of trouble and makes her feel special.
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