Volunteer of the Week: Ruth MitchellPublished 7:10am Thursday, March 13, 2014
Mitchell, 73, of Niles, volunteers as a spelling bee coach at Brandywine Elementary School in Niles.
Q: How did you begin volunteering as the spelling bee coach?
Well, I’ve been doing it close to 15 years. When I started I was also working at the school as a playground monitor. I started out just helping out the spelling bee coach. When she left the school, I took over.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a spelling bee coach?
I enjoy working with the kids. I try to make it fun for them so they want to come in and study for the regional (Cloverleaf) spelling bee. I go in after school every day from just before Thanksgiving to the regional spelling bee (in February). We go over the list of words. When I am doing that, I keep track of how many words they spell. The one that spells the most words for the day gets a prize, which I do on my own. I try to make it fun for them to come in and keep up with it. The prize is usually something they can use in school, like erasers, pencils and pens. I gave out a slinky one time, maybe some bubbles.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment from the spelling bee?
This last year when one of my boys (student Brandon Kirkendall) came in fourth. That was the highest we’ve ever gotten. That made me feel really good.
Q: Do you do other volunteer work?
I also help one of the Brandywine Elementary teachers with students that have trouble with spelling and reading. I’ve been doing that since I retired, probably about five years ago I think. I have different students every year.
I also am part of the lunch buddy program at Brandywine. I have a little girl there that I’ve been having lunch with for the last four years. I go once a week and have lunch with her.
Q: Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
It helps the students. To me, I love children and so it gives me a chance, even though I’m not working at the school, to be in contact with the students and help when I can.