When you've worked with students for over 30 years, it's hard to just put the gradebook down and walk away.
That's what Tawni Prudhomme has learned over the past few years.
Prudhomme spent 33 years -- 28 at Linton-Stockton Elementary School -- teaching students how to read, write, and do arithmetic.
Then she retired.
"I needed something to keep me busy and still have a kid connection," Prudhomme said. "For me it's a good thing. They're refreshing to be around."
Prudhomme knows how important a solid writing foundation is for students as they leave elementary and head out for the rest of their lives.
If a student is unable to communicate through writing, they may struggle in junior high, high school, and beyond.
Late last year she had an idea of how to help students receive some extra help with writing.
"I was just sitting here at the house this winter and remembered how much I enjoyed the time writing for you guys, and I thought the kids might like to do that," Prudhomme recalled.
"It's a long time from January to March for spring break."
Prudhomme, who spent time as a part-time writer for the Greene County Daily World after retiring, came up with the idea of having students write stories for the newspaper.
"I called (principal) Kent Brewer and suggested what might work, and he said he thought it was a good idea."
Prudhomme has a list of story ideas on a board at school, and students pick what they want to write about.
"Basically I'm a facilitator (and a volunteer). I don't meet with the kids that much. I put a chart up in the conference room, and I list quite a variety of different topics they can write about. They get to choose what they write about."
She's working with fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.
"They do the article, feature or comic strip, and they email it to me. I spell check and grammar check it, and then I email it to the paper," Prudhomme said.
"They're doing a good job. I haven't had to edit that much."
Prudhomme's No. 1 goal is to enrich the students' skills. But she also wants to make it easy for teachers and not add another project to their busy schedules.
"We meet on Tuesdays after they eat lunch," Prudhomme said. "We meet one or two times per month.
"I've got good support from the teachers. I'm trying not to have them involved, because that makes it easier on them. Lord knows they're already busy. ... If (the students) have a question they can contact me by email or on that conference day. I want to keep the load off the teachers."
Students won't receive a grade for their stories, but they will receive an award of sorts. The stories will be published in the Greene County Daily World under the logo of Kids Link. They will appear from time to time on Page 3 and possibly other pages of the newspaper.
"I hope after the first time seeing their work in the paper, I'll show them what they wrote and we'll do a little bit of a comparison (with the final product)," Prudhomme said.
Chris is the general manager/editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 847-4487.