Tift County Schools

Grandparent volunteer helps students to read

When most people think of retirement, images of care-free, unscheduled days come to mind. That’s not how Abalene Fore sees it. She keeps a busy schedule, including helping to teach children to read at Len Lastinger Primary School. Two days each week, Fore visits Tracy Ingram’s Kindergarten classroom, to the delight of 22 students.

Fore has been volunteering in classrooms since 1959. She started as a “room mother” in her sons’ classrooms and then continued volunteering in her granddaughters’ classes and now in her great granddaughter’s.

Ingram said the transformation of struggling students after working with Fore is phenomenal.

During Centers Time, students are divided into small groups for reading time, art centers, library visits, science area and more.

“The children feel like they have won the lottery when they get chosen to spend time with Mrs. Fore during Center’s Time,” Ingram said. “They just bloom right in front of you when they spend time with her.”

Fore works with the children on sounding out and recognizing words as well as their handwriting. The one-on-one time and attention students get with her is invaluable. They are able to work on the specific areas where they need the most help.

One student in particular has made tremendous strides. He was having a very difficult time learning to read and was particularly shy about reading out loud. After time with Fore, he excitedly asked Ingram, “May I read my book to the whole class?” Of course, the answer was yes.

Ingram said Fore has become part of the class, part of the family. The students even insisted she have her name on the classroom door where all of their names were listed. They started the school year calling her Mrs. Fore, but now “Grand” (what her grandchildren call her) has become the norm. She even celebrated her eightieth birthday with the class.

It’s obvious the students love Fore, and their comments about her back that up. They range from “She helped me read a WHOLE book,” to “She helps us do the right thing,” to “She smells so good!”

Ingram said Fore also teaches the students that they should never stop learning. She’s been taking computer classes and tells the kindergarteners about her experiences as a student just like them.

“If I can just help that child get an education, that’s all I want to do,” she said. “If they can read, they can do anything.”

Her sons are Mickey Fore and Lamar Fore (who passed away in 2004); her granddaughters are Marie and Brittany; and her great-granddaughters are Millie and Paisley.

Grandparents add so much to the schools where the volunteer. Other grandparent volunteers include Vernell Roberts and Joyce Robinson at G. O. Bailey Primary School, Susan Groff at Annie Belle Clark Primary School and Robert Mitchell at Omega Elementary School.