“I was amazed that this child knew that he was good now, but he needed help, he needed someone to direct him and that was a great moment for me,” Nana Jo, Sam Valley Elementary school volunteer, said.
Nana Jo is a volunteer at Sams Valley Elementary School. She works with kids on the typical skills like reading, writing or spelling.
Though, she’s anything but typical.
Kindergarten teacher, Kymberlee Drake, describes Nana Jo as, “Bubbly, cheerful, flamboyant, and just kind.”
Nana Jo has been volunteering at the Elementary school for almost 20 years. On November 1st, the school celebrated her 80th birthday.
“When I walked into the auditorium and saw all the kids sitting there and the love I felt coming towards me, overwhelmed me,” Nana Jo said.
She first started working at the school after getting involved with the Foster Grandparents program. The Program provides ways for volunteers over the age of 55 to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities.
“I just can’t sit at home doing nothing, it’s just not my nature,” Nana Jo, said.
The school, the kids and the teachers all hold a special place in Nana Jo’s heart.
“The teachers have been absolutely phenomenal.”
And it seems the feelings are mutual.
“We just love her and she’s really just a part of our classroom and our school and she just makes a difference with these kiddos,” Drake said.
When asked what it’s like working with Nana Jo, Shelby Cunningham, one of Nana Jo’s kindergarten students said, “I love it.”
It’s not Nana Jo’s age, or the years that she’s been volunteering at the school that makes her special, it’s her passion and love for helping kids that make her stand out from the rest.
And though she’s 80 years old, she doesn’t have plans to stop any time soon.
“I’m blind in this eye, and this one is going on me but that’s the only thing that will stop me!” Nana Jo said. “I hope to be here until I’m 100!
Blakely McHugh is a weather forecaster and reporter for NBC5 News. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA.
Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors.
Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “Hi!”