Altoona (WQOW) – Love of the written word is something that can follow students for a lifetime. In Altoona, a volunteer is helping to sow the seeds.
Arlen Stuber, 74, has been volunteering in his daughter’s classroom for four years, working to develop their reading skills. Those works have earned him this month’s Jefferson Award.
“He started working with my kids a couple days a week and has done it, this is year number four,” said Vicki Howell, a second grade teacher in Altoona who is also Stuber’s daughter.
Stuber works one-on-one with kids in his daughter’s second grade class helping them develop their reading skills and expand their vocabulary.
“In nine months it is just amazing to see the improvement in the children,” Stuber said.
He’ll come up to me at the end of the year and say, ‘wow, so and so is really doing well,’ and I’m like yea, and you’re a big part of that,” Howell said.
Stuber’s help extends beyond the book cover. He noticed two kids were struggling to read and was able to figure out they needed glasses. He also helped another child feel more comfortable following a big change.
“He even helped one of my students who was brand new to hearing aids. He wears hearing aids, so he showed him it wasn’t that big of a deal,” Howell said.
Stuber is always looking for ways to help his young pupils, including a student who didn’t have someone to come for Grandparent’s Day.
“He asked me as soon as I walked in the door that day,” Stuber said. “He ran up and asked me if I would, and I said definitely,” Howell said.
As Stuber will tell you, this is not a one-sided endeavor. Last November, he suffered a heart attack. He recuperated in the hospital with hand-written cards from his class.
“It’s unbelievable,” Stuber said. “I still get fuzzy warms when thinking about it.”
Stuber said as long as he can make it to the second-floor classroom, you’ll find him there each week sharing a love of books with the next generation of readers.
“It’s hard to explain and express the feeling you get from helping other people and especially little kids,” Stuber said.
Stuber said he’s been volunteering since he was 20, and despite still working, continues to find time to give back.
If you know a volunteer making a difference in our community, nominate them for a Jefferson Award here.