A Lifetime of Change

1 decade 1 year 5 months ago Thursday, June 14 2007 Jun 14, 2007 Thursday, June 14, 2007 9:27:56 AM CDT June 14, 2007 in News
"It's the most rewarding thing in my 86 years that I have ever done. I love it. Last year, I was in the hospital two or three times, and I couldn't wait to get back to school," Ruth Crane, PAVE volunteer, said.

Ruth Crane was one of 50 volunteers with the Eldon school district honored for their part in the PAVE program. The program places volunteers in classrooms for individual tutoring and other duties. While Crane was in the hospital, all of the students in her classroom wrote her cards. One student, who gave her a hug in the lunch line each day, sent a card that Crane will never forget.

"This is what he had in his letter. 'Miss Ruth, you are my very best friend and those hugs every day just warm my heart.' That's from a second grader," Crane explained.

The Eldon superintendent said three years ago their students were struggling academically and the state economic decline hurt their budget.

"At that point in time, the district had cut about one million dollars out of the budget and eliminated a lot of positions and as a result, we were seeing a lot of larger class sizes, fewer resources, and a lot less support for teachers in the classroom," CJ Huff, Eldon Superintendent, said.

That's when the idea for the PAVE program developed. The volunteer program grew, and this year the Eldon school district was honored with a Magna award by the American School Board Journal.

"Certainly, this is one of the bigger successes we've had as of late, but we have small successes every day. I think that as you celebrate those successes, the more momentum you build and we continue to gain momentum as a school district. That's real exciting cause you know you're having an impact on kids."

Huff says the kids are succeeding academically and discipline problems are less of an issue. Last year PAVE received a $400,000 grant and became part of the AmeriCorps program. Crane says volunteers benefit from PAVE as well.

"I believe it's wonderful medicine for a lot of us senior citizens," Crane said.

She volunteers five days a week and plans to continue to volunteer with the PAVE program.

"To know that maybe I've had a good influence on them is so meaningful to me, and as long as I have my health, and I feel I'm very blessed to be able to do it at this age, I plan to do it."

And as long as volunteers like Crane are in the classrooms, students may feel like they have a best friend. Last year, PAVE volunteers spent more than $3,000 hours helping the Eldon school district. 

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