For more than 10 years, “Grandma Pat” has put smiles on the faces of students and provided integral help to teachers.
“Grandma Pat,” as she is known to her students, is Pat Monson, of Stanchfield, who daily volunteers her time within Braham schools.
Pat Monson started volunteering in the schools in 2003 after retiring from 25 years of service as a rural mail carrier for the post office. She primarily works with fifth- and sixth-grade teachers and students.
She initially decided to volunteer in the schools to be closer to her son, Shane Monson, who is a sixth-grade teacher.
“My mom is very willing to do whatever we need,” Monson said. “She supports all of the teachers and students and wants us all to be successful. She was the same way with me growing up. She always wanted me to succeed and be successful. We all like having her around.”
Pat Monson leaves a positive impact on any one she meets.
“All the students really enjoy Grandma Pat and her companionship,” said sixth-grade teacher Dayla McDonald. “When Grandma Pat isn’t around, the first question everyone asks is, ‘Where’s Grandma Pat?’”
Pat Monson is always around when needed.
“Even if she has to bring her husband to an appointment, she’ll always say, ‘I’ll be right back,’” McDonald said. “She always does what we need. We’re a well-oiled machine, and she’s our oil can.”
McDonald explained Pat Monson is in charge of the Accelerated Reader store, where students earn fake money to purchase different items. McDonald mentioned Pat Monson is also the coordinator for the Box Tops program and will cut out the “tops” to send them in for redemption.
Pat Monson has great relationships with her students.
“We are so lucky to have her here,” McDonald said. “She always does what we ask, and sometimes she even does things before I ask because she knows I need it done.”
Students all agree Pat Monson has a sense of humor.
“Grandma Pat jokes around a lot,” sixth-grader Joanna Lindgren said. “Half the time we don’t know if she’s serious or not. But she’s funny, and we really enjoy having her around.”
Pat Monson has been helping in Rebecca Swanson’s classroom for four years.
“Grandma Pat does it all,” Swanson said. “She will do anything to help me. She grades papers, runs errands, gets items from my car, eats treats with me, helps me run the concession stand, is always willing to help me with my softball work and most importantly, keeps me on task so I can get work done.”
Pat Monson also provides birthday lunches and dinners for the teachers.
“Grandma Pat is very helpful,” sixth-grader Mercedes Mattson said. “I like talking with her, and she’s really nice. When we were younger, she used to spend a lot of time reading with us.”
McDonald mentioned students of all ages enjoy getting their hugs from Pat Monson.
“Grandma Pat is my entertainment when there’s nothing else to do,” sixth-grader Meggie Henneman said with a smile. “But we really do enjoy having her in the classroom.”
Pat Monson currently has two grandsons in Braham schools.
“Grandma Pat enjoys volunteering because of her connection to the community and the schools,” McDonald said. “You see her every day at school and also at several home and away sporting events. With two grandsons at the high school, she’s very committed to the schools.”
Pat Monson has gained the trust of the teachers and students.
“The students enjoy and respect her,” Swanson said. “They always welcome her into the classroom and often ask me to call her down to my room for a visit. They enjoy her side of the story and what it contributes to class. Her relationship with teachers is amazing. Many enjoy her and love to hear her laugh. She is always in a good mood.”
Pat Monson serves as a mother figure to both the teachers and students.
“Grandma Pat is like a second mom to us — in our classrooms and in our personal life,” sixth-grade teacher Shandell Gutzke said. “She really keeps us on our toes. I’m getting married in August, and she’s constantly on me to make sure I’m getting everything done.”
Pat Monson truly enjoys what she does.
“Some will say to me, ‘Why do you laugh so much?’” Pat Monson said. “And my reply to them is always, ‘Sometimes the students just look like they need a hug.’ I’ve developed a lot of friendships with all the students and teachers I’ve connected with.”
Finding volunteers like Pat Monson isn’t easy.
“I would be totally lost without her help,” Swanson said. “Not only does she save me and help me with all that I do as a teacher, she is a great mentor to the students and they look up to her. Also I so enjoy the company that she provides throughout the day. I would like to say that Grandma Pat is awesome and I would be totally lost without her helping me in my classroom. She helps me stay on task and even-keeled all the time.”
On May 30, Pat Monson was full of laughs and celebrating the last day of school year with her kids.
“I will definitely miss my kids over the summer, but I will see them all again in the fall,” Pat Monson said. “I’m going to keep volunteering as long as I’m vertical,” she jokingly added.