Many people would like to give back to their community in their own special ways with their own unique talents. Kathleen Bigham volunteers her special talent - teaching - eight hours a day, five days a week.
Kathleen Bigham puts in 40-hour work weeks for no pay to help children read.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Bigham is a volunteer resource teacher at South Columbia Elementary School and helps children with reading problems.
"What she can do to help children with their reading is unbelievable," said first-grade teacher Lynda McIntosh. "Every child that goes to Mrs. Bigham loves her. She has a way of making a child feel so special and so confident about themselves and their reading. It is unbelievable."
She uses a combination of positive reinforcement and meeting each child's needs.
Mrs. Bigham taught elementary school for 11 years in Fairfax, Va. When her husband was transferred to Denver, she decided to stay home with her family, but could not stand to be out of the classroom.
"I have five children of my own. I find it easier and better to make sure that I can meet the needs of my own family but still keep my hands in teaching," she said. "I love what I do. I love teaching."
McIntoshhas an 8-year-old son, Ben, who studied with Bigham in the first grade. Now beginning third grade, he decided it was time to go see her again because he was sailing through readings with little comprehension and had lost his "expression" when reading, McIntosh said. Bigham refreshed Ben's memory in only a week of study and said he does not need much work to be motivated and excited about reading again.
Bigham said most of the credit for her volunteering goes to her husband, Peter.
"He is the one that does not fuss everyday when he comes home and the house is not exactly cleaned because I have been out volunteering," Bigham said. "He is the one who put up with things not always being perfect because I volunteer."
Teachers, administration and pupils love Bigham as she excites children about reading and makes it fun with by doing simple things like adding voices to characters.
"She is awesome," McIntosh said. "She is just unbelievable, absolutely."
Bigham plans to continue teaching at South Columbia.
"I wouldn't be there if I wasn't making a difference in their lives," Bigham said. "I hope I am. I hope I do. It is still lots of fun. I enjoy it and I think it works for the children at South Columbia."
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