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Shining Star: Brenda Harris

Brenda Harris volunteers one day a week at Buckeye Local High School, working with special needs students.

And it seems even a little time can make a big difference.

Brenda Harris doesn't have a background in education, but she wanted students to have someone else to turn to other than their teachers.

So the 70-year-old volunteers one day a week at Buckeye Local High School, working with special needs students.

And it seems even a little time can make a big difference.

“All I did was write a letter to the superintendent and made some suggestions on what I could do to help,” Harris said.

This is already her 5th year.

“She's really nice and kind, and I really like her,” 17-year-old student Debbie Braun said. “It’s really fun listing to her talk.”

“When I've been bullied, she told me, ‘don't listen to what they say. Just always forget about it,’” 15-year old C.J. Adams said.

“When Mrs. Harris comes into the classroom, they light up,” Junior High Principal Jason Kovalski said. “I mean, they look so forward to her being here, and if there's a time she can't come for some reason, they're very disappointed.”

There was a point when Brenda had to take some time off after a bad fall in 2013.

“I literally passed out in my yard and hit the back of my head on the concrete. That was critical,” she said.

“But even when she was out of commission, she was like, ‘I can't wait to get back with the kids.’ That says a lot about her,” Kovalski said.

One of her most recent projects with the students is vision boards.

“We want to show them how to get from school to where they want to be in life,” Brenda said.

She says she often gets the ideas for her classroom crafts and projects from her own six grandchildren.

“What I want for mine, I want for them,” Brenda said. “That's the thing they need, to love, to learn, and just learn as much as they possibly can.”

Brenda's making an impact on young kids outside of the classroom, too, by promoting reading.

She's published two books.

“It was the most exciting thing ever when the books arrived at my house and they were real,” she said. “That was the thing. Not the piece of paper that I had typed on, it was a real book.”

‘The Bow on the Train’ and ‘The Zoo in my Backyard,’ are stories Brenda says simply came to her.

“You think. You write. You read,” she said.

This week’s Shining Star is proving through her words and her actions.

“We all have different gifts. We're all not the same, but we all want the same things,” Brenda said.

That every student deserves on the same page.

In addition to her time at Buckeye Local, Brenda does a lot of work at Shaffer Chapel AME Church in Bloomingdale, and also volunteered her time as an interpreter at Fort Steuben.

If you know someone giving of their time, like Brenda, nominate your shining star here.


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