“Listen to your teacher, and listen to your parents. I love you all, and I’ll see you tomorrow!” This is how Maxine Nolan leaves her classroom of 22 children at John P. Freeman Optional School after every day. She is an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer and spends her weekdays connecting with children and mentoring them to help build confidence and life skills.
Five years ago after retiring from a local hospital, Mrs. Nolan became an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer through Porter-Leath’s Generations program, and has relished every minute of her experience.
Monday through Friday, she serves in a classroom of students she calls “her children,” and cheerfully assists the teacher each day, talking with the children and offering them words of encouragement. She found that some children just need some attention, and she is more than happy to give them hers through her reassuring words and hugs.
Volunteering isn’t new to Mrs. Nolan. As she explains, “I’ve always volunteered. My grandmother volunteered too, so it’s just in my genes.” Like her grandmother, Mrs. Nolan passes down her love for volunteering to others. She gathers friends and family to volunteer downtown at Thanksgiving.
Since her children are all grown and have moved to other cities, she looks forward to seeing “her children” in the classroom. She says that it brightens her day, and she likes to return the favor by greeting students with a cheerful smile and a “Good morning!” when they arrive for class. However, what is most rewarding to Mrs. Nolan is the chance to see how students mature in behavior and academic skills from the beginning to the end of the school year. It fills her heart with joy to hear them show respect by using the magic words like “excuse me,” “thank you”, and “please,” and to see them master tying their own shoe after the many lessons she has given them.
These brief moments help her know that she has made an impact on the next generation. “I won’t forget these children, and I’m quite sure they won’t forget me!”