Thornapple Kellogg School District

Skip to main content

Longtime Volunteer Makes Special Connection with Kids

 Humphrey said Monday afternoons are a favorite part of the week because that’s the day she visits McFall Elementary School.

For the past 14 years, Humphrey has been a staple in Kay Griffith’s kindergarten classroom, volunteering one afternoon every week all year long.

“I can always count on her,” said Griffith. “She never fails and the kids love her and love when she comes.”

Students anxiously look on the clipboard to find out where they are on Humphrey’s list and how soon it will  be their turn again to read to her.

“She reads with us and I like it.  Sometimes she makes me laugh and smile,” said kindergartner Nadia Piccione.

Classmate Cece Hoeksma agreed “She’s fun to read with. And she’s really nice.”

Kindergarten student Logan Keizer said he’s been able to bring some of the books from his home to read with her and he likes sharing those with her.

“We always give her a hug every single day she comes,” said Violet Kidder. “She’s so nice.”

Anya Gater said she likes Mondays because she knows that’s when Humphrey will be in. “She helps me figure out my words and then I read better,” said Gater.

Jimmy Holmes proudly said he was at level “C” already and has moved up throughout the year with help from Mrs. Humphrey. “It helps me a lot to be able to read to her.”

Humphrey has been volunteering in Griffith’s kindergarten classroom the past 14 years. Students she started with graduated last year.

“I really look forward to my Monday afternoons,” said Humphrey. “I think the kids make you  younger. I know they make me smile.”

Humphrey started volunteering in the classroom after she retired. “I wanted something to do,” she said.

Her daughter-in-law works in the attendance office at the TK High School and suggested volunteering. Once she started, Humphrey said she was hooked.

“I love the kids. I love reading and I want to share that with them and hopefully help them love reading,” said Humphrey. “I hope I’ve been able to help them and encourage them a little.”Humphrey has one son, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren of her own and builds special bonds with all of the students.

Griffith said the time and commitment Humphrey makes to each student is invaluable. “It’s so good for them (the students) to have someone to read to and someone who cares about them and talks to them. They look forward to seeing her every week,” said Griffith.

“Ann is so dedicated and so committed. Through rain, shine, snow, no matter what, she’s here every week and she takes it very seriously.”

Griffith said it’s amazing to her to see how many years Humphrey has committed to the students. “All those years and all the time she committed. She’s had such a huge impact on so many students.”

Humphrey typically spends her time listening to students read to her and offering encouragement and support. Griffith said Humphrey also seems to have a knack of sensing when a child just needs to talk to her about something. “They laugh together. Sometimes she just listens to their stories. It’s just that one-on-one time that’s so important. It’s their time when they get to have this special lady all to themselves.”

Griffith said she values all of the volunteers who help out in the classroom and at special events. She said someone like Mrs. Humphrey is rare - someone who has no real connection to the classroom, but who continues to give.

“She’s doing it with her full heart. She’s a wonderful, wonderful lady with a big heart she shares with the kids,” she said. “She’s very special to me and to my classroom.”

McFall Principal Jon Washburn also acknowledged Humphrey's commitment to the students.

"What a dedicated person and educator to come week after week for so many years. She has made such an impact on so many students. She's very, very much appreciated," Washburn said.

He said all volunteers are a critical part of the school. "Especially with so many young children in the classrooms. Any extra hands our teachers can have to help out and any extra time these students get to spend one-on-one with someone is a huge benefit."

Humphrey said she may continue to volunteer as long as she’s able. She said she takes it year to year.

  “They (the students) give me more than I give them. I’m happy and I’m happy I’m able to help,” Humphrey said.