It wouldn’t be a Thursday without a visit from Grandpa Don.
For 10 years, White Bear Lake resident Don Moore — also known as Grandpa Don — has visited teacher Amy Corner’s students at Oneka Elementary School in Hugo.
“He has been doing a read-aloud in my class every Thursday, pretty much all year-round, in all kinds of weather. He is as constant as the rising sun,” Corner explained.
Moore is a retired teacher and principal. His career brought him to many places, including Africa, where he and his late wife Trudy taught at a missionary school.
Corner met the Moores at Eagle Brook Church in White Bear Lake, where the Moores’ grandson attended Corner’s Sunday School class. Corner also happened to be their grandson’s first grade teacher at Oneka Elementary. Trudy started volunteering in Corner’s class and asked if there were any jobs that her husband could help with. The two regularly started visiting the school together even after their grandson — who is now a senior in high school — moved on from elementary school.
Trudy passed away at the age of 65 after a battle with an aggressive cancer in August 2012. “I picked it up and have been there ever since,” Don Moore said.
Before the pandemic, Moore would visit the classroom every Thursday afternoon to read stories and poems to the students.
“The kids would just gather up at his feet. Whenever they saw him walk in the door, they would say ‘Grandpa Don is here,’” Corner recalled. “Some kids don’t get to see their grandparents all the time, and he just feels like a grandpa. He has got that aura about him.”
She added, “He just has got a great presence with the kids. He has a very peaceful spirit.”
White Bear Area Schools currently have a no-visitor policy due to the pandemic, but Grandpa wasn’t going to let that get in the way of his visits. Every Thursday, he logs onto his computer and visits the classroom via videoconference. Although he misses that in-person experience, he says the virtual experience is working out really well, too.
Moore says the kids always “say the darndest things.” He makes sure to incorporate every student into the experience. If the child is a good listener, he or she may be called on by Moore to call out a specific page number. And then Moore will read a poem on that page from Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”
This spring, Grandpa Don may even be able to do some socially distanced outdoor visits with the students, too.
Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com.