Why One Retired Teacher Brings Her Time, Talents to Crystal Lakes Elementary

What can be the reason a woman, now approaching 89 years old, goes to volunteer in an elementary school? You simply need to ask Mildred Hammer. Mrs. Hammer has come faithfully every week to Kathleen Tsakiris’ fifth grade class at Crystal Lakes Elementary School in Boynton Beach for the past 23 years.

Mrs. Hammer is a retired New York elementary school teacher who missed teaching and being around children. So when she and her husband – who is already 90 – moved to South Florida, Mrs. Hammer decided she needed to get back into education. She contacted Crystal Lakes Elementary and was paired with Mrs. Tsakiris (Mrs. KT).

Because Mrs. Hammer had such an extensive teaching background, Mrs. KT knew she had to make the most of Mrs. Hammer’s talents. Mrs. Hammer spends about two hours weekly to come up with ideas for lessons. She and Mrs. KT then work together on math, poetry and social studies. Mrs. Hammer even delves into the art of cursive handwriting and praises the students for writing neatly!

Daniel, Mrs. Hammer’s husband of almost 66 years, is supportive of her volunteer work. “I am proud of her and I feel that she has so much to offer students through her experiences,” Mr. Hammer said.

Mrs. KT said she feels lucky to have a volunteer who is now like a colleague and family. They seem to inspire each other! “The students have given my life more purpose and keep me feeling younger,” Mrs. Hammer said.

Interested in volunteering in Palm Beach County schools? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Debi Elfen at deborah.elfen@palmbeachschools.org or call (561) 434-8789. 

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