Jo Hicks, 89, watches a group of preschool students while volunteering at Franklin Sherman Elementary School. Hicks has volunteered for years for the school’s preschool program.
Photo by Alex McVeigh.
McLean As mothers, Jo Hicks and Susana Radice raised their children in McLean. Once their children were grown, both women decided to take their skills to the local school, Franklin Sherman Elementary School. More than 20 years and 10 teachers later, the two are still going strong volunteering with special needs preschool students.
On Thursday, May 10, faculty of Franklin Sherman honored the two longtime volunteers for their decades of service.
"I don’t know what I’d do without them," said Tara Geozeff, preschool teacher. "They never take a sick day, never take vacation and when they’re here everything works so well."
Hicks, 89, has been volunteering for more than 20 years. Her daughter, now 62, attended Franklin Sherman. Hicks got her first taste of volunteering in schools while she and her family were living in Australia.
"Old ladies like me just can’t sit at home and fingerpaint alone, they’d put me away," Hicks said. "But I’ve had to learn to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t otherwise do, so it’s been a learning experience for me as well."
Hicks volunteers with the preschool once a week, and stays busy golfing and swimming throughout the week.
"I asked Jo years ago, why doesn’t she get her hip repaired, and she told me it would mess up her golf stroke," said Deborah Abbot, an instructional assistant at Franklin Sherman.
In addition to helping keep the children organized, the two often clean up between preschool sessions.
"I don’t do too much cleaning at home, but I certainly do here," Radice said with a laugh. "I’ve learned that if I don’t get out, I’ll get lazy."
Radice started volunteering in 1985 and comes in twice a week. The grandmother of 23 (with her first great-grandchild due this year), she said she started volunteering to give back to the community around here.
"My favorite part is the camaraderie, with the students, parents and teachers," she said. "And I’ve learned that you definitely need a sense of humor."
"Sometimes they’re clumsy, they need to be shown what to do," Radice said. "A lot of them aren’t used to getting their hands messy, and they’re hesitant, so we have to jump right in. That’s our job, to make them comfortable."
The two say they plan to continue volunteering as long as they can.