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By KELLY RICHARDSON
CECILIA — Jane Tabacchi’s students can’t believe she teaches them twice a week for free. But now she’s getting her reward.
Tabacchi has been named 2009 High School Volunteer of the Year by the Kentucky Coalition of School Volunteer Organizations. She received the award recently at a ceremony in Shepherdsville.
Tabacchi teaches a small-group reading class to Central Hardin High School students who need extra help in reading.
Tabacchi is a retired elementary teacher from the Fort Knox school system. With many members of her family still working, she wanted to find a new outlet.
“Everyone had something to do but me,” she said.
Her nephew, Jeff Crady, teaches at Central, and suggested the reading class to her.
Tabacchi said the offer was a “new challenge,” especially given her educational background. She had taught elementary school and some night classes at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, but never the high school age group.
“I had never really been around high school students,” she said.
Tabacchi said the school had a warm and friendly atmosphere.
“When you walk in, you just feel that,” she said.
Receiving the award came as a surprise. She said she was honored to be recognized among other “inspiring” volunteers who were there.
“I was just stunned,” she said.
Sheri Kersey coordinates volunteers at Central. Kersey said Tabacchi brings her students gifts from her travels and snacks for the classroom.
“She’s just been great with them,” she said.
Tabacchi is the sixth Central volunteer to have won this award, she said.
Tabacchi enjoys watching students’ progress, something she had seen in kindergartners but didn’t expect to see as much of in older students.
“I don’t know, you just feel so rewarded by seeing the growth,” she said.
Kelly Richardson can be reached at (270) 505-1747.