Sturgill helps teachers, students alike

Shirley Sturgill just loves working in the classroom.

It just wasn’t something she’d considered until she retired from Toyota five years ago.

Now she volunteers at both Justice and Strode Station elementary schools multiple days a week, even after her grandchildren moved on to higher grades.

“I got attached to the teachers here,” Sturgill said as she sat in the library at Justice Elementary on a recent Friday. “I’ve been called back for whatever they need. I’ve done book fairs, Santa’s workshop, the festivals.”

She also spends a fair bit of time in classes working with students.

“I work one-on-one in the classroom,” she said. “I grade papers. I do reading tests. There’s always copies (to be made).

Being a volunteer in recent years opened her eyes to what modern education is like.

“I feel for the teachers,” she said. “They have a hard job but still love what they do. I didn’t realize what they go through until I started volunteering.”

After working most of her life, inactive retirement only lasted so long.

“When I retired, I stayed at home about a month, day in and day out,” she said. “It gets old real fast. I live by myself. All my girls work. People won’t come in … and I like to talk.”

Volunteering offers a new mission and a new outlook on things, she said.

“I love interacting with people,” she said. “I didn’t use to be that way. I like talking to people and see where they’re coming from.”

Best of all is making an impression on a child, Sturgill said.

“When the children or teachers say thank you,” she said. “When you’re out and a child comes running up the aisle saying, ‘Miss Shirley!’ You know you’ve made an impression on that child. I know I’m doing the right thing.”