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Grammy Getz is the Apple of school's eye

October 02, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - She might be Betty to most people, but to the students at Potomac Heights Elementary School in Hagerstown - and some of the teachers and staff - she is Grammy Getz.

"I started volunteering when my granddaughter, Emily Getz, was in the second grade," Getz said.

That was more than three years ago. She liked it so much that she stayed.

Recently, Getz was honored with a Golden Apple award, which she proudly displayed on her collar one recent day at school.

"I didn't even know what the award was," Getz said. She was nominated for the honor by Debbie Catherman, the second-grade teacher who describes Getz as her "right arm."

"She files and makes copies, but she also works with the kids," Catherman said. "She shows a lot of initiative."

At a recent meeting of the Washington County Board of Education, Getz heard praises from former Potomac Heights Principal Archie van Norden, current Principal Kathy Kelsey and Catherman.

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"My granddaughter Alyssa Getz, who is in kindergarten at Potomac Heights, presented me with flowers," Getz said.

The praise was great but what really keeps Getz coming back every Thursday and Friday - all day, both days - is knowing she is helping the teachers and more importantly, the children.

When she started volunteering, most of her work consisted of filing, sorting and other secretarial chores so she could free up time for the teachers to teach.

"Today, I'm putting the students' work into their Friday folders that go home with them for the parents to read and sign," Getz said.

And while she still does those things, she also has time to work on mathematics and reading with individual students and small groups.

Getz even came by the school over the summer to help Catherman get ready for the new school year.

"When I get home at the end of the day, I feel so good that I can help," Getz said.

Now 61, Getz moved to Hagerstown with her husband, Frank, in 2002, from Northern Virginia. He is retired from the military and she worked in personnel/office work.

"We wanted to be closer to our three granddaughters," Getz said. Her son, Brian, and his wife, Janet, are teachers in Washington County. In addition to Emily and Alyssa, they have a granddaughter Katie, who is 2.

"She often beats me here in the morning and I get here about 7 a.m.," Catherman said.

And then Getz stays until 2 or 3 p.m.

Is there any pay for all of Getz's time and effort?

"I pay her with love," Catherman said. "We need more like her."

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