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Almost a Teacher, Now She Helps Them All

Danielle Storey leads a line of bundled-up kindergartners through the halls of Central Elementary School, to an exit where parents wait by their cars to pick them up. She makes eye contact with or waves to every parent to ensure each child is safely on the way home – an important duty in a school of 580 students.

It’s about 3:30 on a snowy afternoon. She’ll be back here for a 5:30 p.m. yoga class she helped start, then off at 7:30 p.m. for her older daughter’s hockey game.

Danielle Storey waves to a parent as kindergartners Camren Overway, left, and Charleigh Walkons look for their rides home
Danielle Storey waves to a parent as kindergartners Camren Overway, left, and Charleigh Walkons look for their rides home

You’ll see her every Thursday here at Central, where daughter Taylor is a fifth-grader, and other weekdays helping out at Kenowa Middle School, where Madison is in seventh.

Powered by Parents is a series highlighting the parents, grandparents and other family members who give their time in schools to help students and teachers do their best.

This on top of her full-time job as a graphic designer and her duties as co-president of the Central PTO, along with Michele Dykstra. She was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on the Kenowa Hills Board of Education, and also serves on the Central School Improvement Committee and Kenowa Hills Education Foundation.

Sure, it’s a busy day that for her starts around 5 a.m. But Storey genuinely enjoys volunteering, especially here at Central, which she attended when it was a middle school

Danielle Storey hands a ticket to James Sanders, who will return it to her before leaving for his parent’s car
Danielle Storey hands a ticket to James Sanders, who will return it to her before leaving for his parent’s car

“I like being in these buildings,” Storey says. “I liked school. I thought at one time about being a teacher, but this is good enough. Watching how hard those teachers work motivates me and inspires me to want to do more. It needs to be a community effort.”

She does plenty to help Central’s teachers, from PTO meetings and Facebook postings to organizing fundraisers, including one with Biggby Coffee that runs until Christmas. Principal Cherie Horner says Storey helps recruit other parents to take on school projects, and does everything from tutoring to cleaning up.

“Anytime I say I need a volunteer for something, she’s like ‘I can do that,’” Horner marvels. “She truly wants a school (where) all the kids get the same opportunity her child does.”

Being an active school parent is hard work, Storey says, but is worth it “just to make our kids’ educational experience a little better.”

Besides, interacting with chatty students brings rewards, she says after seeing off the kindergartners: “You can’t leave here without a smile on your face.”

Three reasons why Storey says she always leaves with a smile on her face: from left, Braelyn Kempker, James Sanders and Charleigh Walkons
Three reasons why Storey says she always leaves with a smile on her face: from left, Braelyn Kempker, James Sanders and Charleigh Walkons

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio or email Charles.

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