Local Grandparent Volunteers at School

Betty Jorissen, who volunteers to listen to students read at Jefferson Elementary School, said good-bye to her students for a few months last week.

Jorissen’s last day volunteering for the year was Tuesday, and the students had their last day of school Friday, but Jorissen won’t return right away in the new year.

“We just had a tearful goodbye because I go away for the winter,” she said. She heads south from January through March.

But Jorissen plans to return as long as she’s able.

“I’ve always thought about volunteering, but I lived out in the country until about 12 years ago, and when I moved to town, I had two teachers living beside me — Mrs. (Karen) Christianson and Mrs. (Nancy) Ost,” Jorissen said. “And so I started then, and I’ve been at it ever since.”
Jorissen helps out in reading classes.

“The children just read to me,” she said. She helps them sound out their words and occasionally helps out on art projects.

She volunteers two days per week, two hours in the first grade, and one hour in the second grade.

“I wanted to work with the kids when I volunteered,” Jorissen said. “I did not want to do filing or decorating bulletin boards and things like that, and they both obliged.”

“I get to know them all pretty much, and enjoy them a lot,” Jorissen said of her students.

Jorissen said she received a teaching certificate about 50 years ago but only taught for two years until she had a family. She didn’t teach except for about 16 years of a pre-kindergarten program. It was an eight-week class in the spring.

Jorissen said there’s other volunteers at the school who help with various tasks, including a volunteer who helps with noon hours, getting scarves and shoes tied for the kids to go outside.

Jorissen said she’ll volunteer as long as she’s able, and told the classroom teachers that if she ever becomes a nuisance she’s happy to step aside.

“But so far neither one has said anything, so I’m assuming I’m still viable,” Jorissen said with a laugh.

Troy Miller, principal of Jefferson Elementary School, said some parents and grantparents have been volunteering since before he was at the school and have a connection with a certain classroom teacher.

“Some come in quite often on a regular basis,” he said.