Tim Jennison really doesn’t want to talk about the fact that he was named Pembroke Elementary School’s Volunteer of the Year. But, everyone else does.
“He is not our Volunteer of the Year, he is our Hero of the Year,” says one teacher in the hallway.
“He’s the most amazing man,” says another passerby. “We heart Tim.”
“We all love him,” adds a third fan, “and his humility is wonderful.”
“I don’t even know what that word means,” says Jennison, responding to each compliment with self-deprecation as he makes his way to the school’s bus loop.
Rain, sleet, snow or sunshine ̶ that’s where Tim can be found several mornings each week helping teachers greet and escort students with disabilities from the more than 20 buses that arrive each day. It’s not unusual for him to bring coffee, and sometimes doughnuts, for staff.
Jennison won’t talk about his volunteer recognition, but he will talk about his wife, albeit briefly. “One of the promises she made me give before she died,” he explains, “was to come up and check on her kids. She loved these kids.”
The conversation quickly turns back to the students whose buses are due any minute. Jennison mentions a few “favorites” by name – Solomon, Katie, Emily, Brady and more. One senses that, in truth, every student arriving that morning is a favorite.
He helps with a backpack. He pushes a wheelchair. He takes a hand. He gives a high five. Every gesture is met with an adoring gaze from the student Jennison is assisting.
Judy Wiggins, intellectual disability teacher, agrees.
“Mr. Jennison is well known for his positive attitude, kind words and dedication to children,” she says. “He takes great pride in volunteering at our school, and he continues to be an appreciated member of our Pembroke family.”
Jennison is also well known for being quite handy with small repairs around the school. Staff members note his help with a squeaky wheel, broken cart or shaky bookshelf, not to mention a few things he has constructed for use in the school.
Not surprising, his helping hands are not exclusive to Pembroke Elementary. Before arriving at the bus loop that morning, he was up early helping a neighbor with a water leak that ran into the street. Jennison was due to check on his friend at 2 p.m. However, before that, he planned to help Sowala secure a fence around the school’s memorial garden. He explained the garden as a place to honor the Pembroke staff members who have died, and notes that he is going to add a rose bush.
Without a doubt, when school reopens April 13, Jennison will be there, greeting students and staff with a hearty hug, handshake or high-five.
“Why do I do it,” he asks, finally responding to a question about his volunteer service, “I just like kids. I really love these kids.”
To find ways you can get involved, visit the division’s Get Connected page at vbschools.com/getconnected and find volunteer opportunities available in VBCPS schools. For more information about the Volunteers in Education program as a whole, visit the page to learn more about the service of VBCPS volunteers.