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To hear Mary Porter tell it, time is what she has to give, and she's been giving it to a K-12 school in Como, Texas, for nearly a decade.

For the past nine years, Ms. Porter has volunteered her time to the students at the 700-student Como-Pickton School in Hopkins County, where she taught homemaking before retiring back in 1976.

"It got started when I got a notice that it was time to enroll my great-grandson in school," the 83-year old former teacher explained in a telephone interview last week. That notice included a request for volunteers, so Ms. Porter told the boy's teacher that she could help out every day--all day.

"She couldn't understand anyone wanting to be there all day," Ms. Porter said. "I've always been very active person."

In recent years, however, a vision problem has limited her volunteer visits to about two days a week.

"It is very little that I do now [compared with] when I first started," she said. But she remembers "very full days" of grading papers and substitute teaching when she began as a volunteer.

Even though Ms. Porter doesn't do as much as she used to, she still helps out with chores like delivering messages to places the school's intercom can't reach, and helping out in the library straightening books and dusting.

"I've enjoyed my teaching," she said, "and now I can enjoy my volunteering."

Ms. Porter's teaching career spanned nearly 38 years, most of them within the Hopkins County system.

She began teaching English, reading, and spelling to elementary students in her hometown of Campbell, Texas. She ended her official career teaching homemaking at the Como-Pickton School about 85 miles from Dallas.

Ms. Porter said she has a special bond with the school's students because she taught many of their parents and even a few grandparents.

She also has a special bond with the staff.

"She is an inspiration to everyone," said Margaret Anderson, the school's secretary.

--ADRIENNE D. COLES acoles@epe.org

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