By the Powder School District
Poudre School District volunteer Fran Grassman sets a good example. As someone who shuns the spotlight and the attention, she has a modest impact on volunteers, staff, and students while serving.
Jennifer Wright, a PSD nurse, and Grassman’s daughter convinced her mother to start serving in the PSD about eight years ago. Wright thought it would be a fun way for his mom to get out of the house to meet more people.
Grassman serves at all grade levels and volunteers at several schools as a hearing screener. Screenings generally take place in the fall and early spring.
Grassman also assists with both auditory and visual screenings of early childhood education PSD students. Grassman helps the students feel comfortable during the screening, helps them sit up, and helps them put the headphones on the student, which tests their hearing level.
In PSD, students are selected from kindergarten to ninth grade. This year includes fourth graders because screenings did not take place last year, due to the pandemic. In a typical year, students from kindergarten through third, fifth, seventh and ninth grades may be examined. Grassman finds joy in helping people.
âI enjoy meeting young people,â said the retiree, who enjoys being part of the school system as a volunteer.
What sets Grassman apart are her knitting prowess and craftsmanship, which she makes for her family and friends. During breaks during volunteering, she works on her latest creation. Grassman knitted special hearing aid covers for student masks during the pandemic. She also shares her recipes with other volunteers. Grassman has a servant’s heart. She was only able to volunteer for one week in the last school year, but she showed up anyway.
âI missed being in schools and around students,â she said. She was delighted when the volunteers were able to return to the schools. âEven though the school activities are not the same, it was good to come back this year. “
As an older volunteer, Grassman was a major influence on newbies.
âShe’s so friendly and engaging,â said Kathryn Rudd, assistant audiologist for PSD. “She is our top recruiter for the hearing screening process.”
Grassman made friends and connections by volunteering. Because of this, and with others who enjoy the process, Rudd is fortunate to have several volunteers who follow her around the schools on their schedule as they have made friendships.
âShe’s kind and reliable,â Rudd said of one of his favorite volunteers. Grassman is an advocate for volunteering. She encourages anyone involved with students to try volunteering, as it is important to the health and well-being of the student. It is also important to have enough volunteers to help with the selection process. The screening process gives every student every chance to thrive, improve, and detect the first signs of hearing or visual loss.
Rudd explained that an average of 30 to 50 students each year are confirmed to have permanent hearing loss. And another 100 are reported for middle ear problems; this could include ear or earwax infections, which are also considered educational hearing loss.
As an assistant audiologist, Rudd rechecks all the students who are referred. For visual screenings, nurses check students who do not pass the visual screening. More than 10 to 12 volunteers are needed at each school site for visual and hearing screenings.
âIt would be reassuring to have the full capacity,â Rudd said. âWe can always use more volunteers, even if the vision and hearing stations are full, we could use someone to hold the door, show the students where to hand in the papers and accompany them to the zones. “
âWe will never turn down volunteers,â said Mary Beth Bramel, educational audiologist at PSD. âWe never had too many volunteers.
As a coach, you are trained on the spot. No experience is required. âIf you show up, we’ll train you,â Bramel said.
Visit the Volunteer webpage at psdschools.org to learn more.