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Retired GRPS worker now longtime classroom volunteer in Lowell

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Posted at 4:38 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 19:22:42-04

LOWELL, Mich — Donna Miller may be retired, but she's still busy working full-time as a volunteer at Cherry Creek Elementary School.

Miller spends five days a week helping out in Robyn Anderson's second grade classroom.

"She's just a part of our room," explained Anderson. "It is our classroom. I refer to it as our classroom because she's such a big piece of it."

Anderson said Miller helps to relieve some of the "paperwork pressure", helping to read with students, grade papers and work on special projects.

"She'll do anything. She's never really told me 'no, I won't do that'. She will even help other teachers in the other classes if they need help," Anderson told FOX 17 News. "She just doesn't want any recognition for anything that she does. She's just wants to help people."

Miller retired from working payroll for Grand Rapids Public Schools after 30 years.

For the past 10 years, she's found a new job volunteering with Lowell Public Schools.

Miller, who comes from a family of teachers, knows how the simple tasks she can help with add up.

"I know how much it takes for a teacher nowadays," Miller said. "You just don't think of the little things that need to be done every single day that a volunteer could do."

Early on in the pandemic, Miller continued to volunteer by helping to drop off packets of work and other items to students at home.

Although she may take an occasional vacation, she's known for faithfully coming to school each morning and staying later than some teachers.

"I just have the time to give and I'm just trying to make a difference in kids' lives," she said. "I just love it. Love the kids."

The school year is wrapping up next week, but it's safe to say that Miller will be back in the fall once again.

"Every year I think okay, this is it. And then every August I'm back," she said. "Sometimes my husband thinks I'm crazy. Sometimes I come home so exhausted, but it's well worth it in the end."

Anderson is grateful to have an extra helping hand and another adult for her students to turn to.

"She pushes them to be better students, to be better human beings," Anderson said. "I'm always trying to find ways to thank her. She is just such a special person... I want her to know how thankful we are to have her in our lives."

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Miller is receiving a $550 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Theresa Adkison, our April 2022 Pay it Forward Person of the Month.