July 11, 2014

Citizen of the Week: Karen Jelliff,

Of all of the investments we make in life, perhaps the most important investment of all is the time spent molding the minds of youngsters.

Karen Jelliff, a retired educator and avid Friendship House volunteer, has devoted countless hours to doing just that. As a member of the Friendship House Volunteer Program, Jelliff started out in 2013 as a weekly reader for the preschool classes, but has gradually committed more and more time to creating fun, creative and educational activities for the children.

“Ms. Karen was invited to visit and volunteer in our program by our Infant and Toddler supervisor, Brenda Sanders,” said Tracy Defore, program manager for the Friendship House. “For the summer, she has been volunteering four to five days a week.”

In addition to reading to preschoolers, Jelliff works with small groups on specific skills, creates and participates in art projects, and plans activities for center-wide special events for the Friendship House, according to Defore.

“Ms. Karen is a huge fan of Pinterest, and she has brought us so many new and exciting projects and ideas. For example, when she read Dr. Seuss’ ‘Bartholomew and the Oobleck,” she extended the activity with a science experiment by making a fun recipe with the children,” said Defore.

Not only does Jelliff provide fun ideas and art activities for the teachers for events such as Dr. Seuss Week and the Summer Olympics, she focuses on essential skills the children will need when they enter kindergarten and grade school: in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or “STEM” activities.

“School readiness is a goal for our children and we have benefited from her participation center-wide,” said Defore.

“Karen brings her own materials, puppets and books to enhance her storytelling; she is our own personal ‘story stretcher,’” continued Defore. “Ms. Karen also taught the children a new song called ‘Following Directions with Exercise’ that they shared with their families at our Pre-K End of the Year Celebration.”

Among all of Jelliff’s attributes, Defore can only think of one problem.

“Our only problem with Ms. Karen is that there is not enough of her to go around!” said Defore. “She is a passionate volunteer that provides learning activities for the children that are engaging and developmentally appropriate. We are very glad that she has become a part of the Friendship House Volunteer Program.”

For her willingness to volunteer with the children, and for her dedication in making her efforts so important to their development, The Daily Citizen names Karen Jelliff Citizen of the Week.

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