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Retirees lend a hand at schools in area

Almost daily we are reminded that the baby boomers born after the end of World War II are retiring.

Many will discover they have some extra hours to fill.

Naomi Yost, now 65, is among those who have discovered a satisfying outlet. A retired Jackson County school aide, Yost volunteers at Buffalo Elementary.

She started when her grandson was a student at the school. He has moved on now to George Washington Middle School in Eleanor, but Yost hasn't followed.

She is still helping out at Buffalo Elementary, to the delight of Principal Mike Mullins.

"We would love to have more volunteers," Mullins said in an email.  

The school solicits volunteers by sending a form to parents each fall, he said.

"Sometimes we find out about grandparents from parents who would like to volunteer but can't for one reason or another. Sometimes the grandparents will simply approach us as they want to help the school where their grandchild attends."

Whichever it is, he welcomes the help.

Yost, for her part, does whatever is needed, from making copies and using laminating machines to occasionally answering the phones. She has even helped get sponsors for a student trip.

"I just love to help the teachers out," she said.

She's not sure if she will follow her grandson as he continues in upper-level schools or remain at Buffalo.

"You know, in the elementary schools, a lot of teachers need worksheets, lots of copies."

And Buffalo Elementary is special.

"I like the teachers and the kids," Yost said.

She has delayed a decision for next year until after she has joint replacement surgery this spring or summer.

There are some requirements for school volunteers beyond a desire to help, as I learned in volunteering in an elementary school near our retirement home. For what it's worth, I don't qualify as a baby boomer, as I was born at the end of the Great Depression.

Schools require we agree to a volunteer policy. We agree to work under the direction of school staff, abide by county electronic rules if we use a computer and uphold policies of the county board. It also requires that we maintain confidentiality, which I interpret to mean we don't gossip about any student or teacher in or out of school. And, yes, particularly with the changes since I was in elementary school more than 60 years ago, it is impossible not to observe things we sometimes question. The agreement I signed also requires reporting any unsafe conditions or practices observed.

And we have to sign in at the office each time we go to the school and wear the "safe schools identification" visitor badge.

While most of the volunteers are parents, members of the Parent-Teacher Organization or otherwise related to current students, not all of us fall in either category.

Yost, of course, started volunteering at Buffalo Elementary because her grandson was there. Her other six grandchildren are in Colorado.

None of my grandchildren are in nearby schools. The older two are in middle and high school in Martinsburg and the youngest is a third grader in Northern Pennsylvania. Obviously, there's no opportunity for me to assist at their schools.

I don't assist teachers, plan fund-raisers and special events, or support extra-curricular programs. This school needed help with the library section of the media room, and working with the books fits my interests and background.

It requires skills I've gained in part-time positions with county libraries following retirement from the Daily Mail.

True, shelving books is not a huge mind-stretching activity.

But helping a student find reading matter that appeals or for a special project or locating information a teacher needs for a classroom study unit is truly rewarding.

Volunteering is a way of life in our nation. So, too, supporting education is woven into the fabric of our system.

As I see it, there is no reason to retire from either upon retirement from a career.

Contact writer Evadna Bartlett at evadna@dailymail.com.


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