Sometimes, all it takes is a school-age grandchild to inspire an adoring, retired grandparent to begin a second career as a school volunteer. Soon, the entire school community is benefitting from this gift of life-long experience, deep skills and sage knowledge.
Our February Volunteer of the Month is one of these very special grandpas who re-tooled to help students practice their reading and math skills, shelve media center books and encourage new swimmers in drown-proofing classes. Mr. Richard Watts, today the Board of Education is pleased to honor you for your many hours of dedicated service to our schools.
Mr. Watts arrives at Marley Middle School bright and early every Wednesday morning, usually before most employees. Along with his contagious smile and huge, up-beat personality, Mr. Watts always brings his handy briefcase full of the many tools and supplies he may need throughout the day. These include scissors for the inevitable cutting-out and trimming jobs, his own hole-punch, staple remover, measuring tools, and even a screwdriver to replace batteries for students’ Senteo SMART response clickers.
For more than eight years, Mr. Watts served as an outstanding volunteer every Tuesday and Thursday at Pasadena Elementary School. He followed his grandson to Chesapeake Bay Middle and added Wednesdays to his volunteer routine. Last year his grandson’s family moved, and when former Pasadena teachers, Bethany Husak and Michele Lory accepted positions at Marley Middle School, Mr. Watts asked if they could use his help at the new school. Ms. Husak reports, “Of course, we said, ‘Yes!’”
At first, the Marley Middle teachers were not sure how to best utilize Mr. Watts’s services. But by October, all departments and teams were bringing so much work to him, that Media Center Specialist, Cathy Gistedt (Giz-zet’) created a “Mr. Watts Job Request Ticket” system and cleared space in the Media Center workroom for Mr. Watts’s piles of job requests and projects-in-progress. Besides serving as “Captain of the Copier,” Mr. Watts compiles booklets, laminates and cuts out everything, develops and installs hallway and lobby displays, and will even create posters with just a few ideas from the requesting teacher. Ms. Gistedt calls Mr. Watts “The Original Energizer Bunny” for whom no job is too small or challenging. “If I don’t get it done today,” he says, “I’ll take it home.”
Mr. Watts will happily explain that he “wants teachers to spend their precious planning time focusing on developing effective lessons for our students rather than standing at the copier.”
The Marley Middle School community knows it is incredibly fortunate to have such a generous, resourceful, and dependable volunteer like Mr. Watts, who truly makes a difference for the faculty, staff and, especially the students of Marley Middle School.
Mr. Richard Watts, would you please come forward? With great appreciation, I present this Volunteer of the Month Certificate and Bell to you.