OCTOBER 31, 2019 -- When teacher Kristi Schleper asked 3rd and 4th graders to raise their hands if they remembered Mrs. Olene, every hand shot up. Olene was a volunteer at Jackson Elementary for nearly a decade before she lost her battle with cancer in September.
Olene’s son, Tim Olene, is a teacher at Jackson Elementary. She started volunteering when Tim’s first child attended the elementary school. Olene spent afternoons in her grandson’s classroom and it only grew from there. She helped with everything at Jackson Elementary, from picking up donuts to teaching multiplication to helping with art projects. All of her work totaled more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service.
After her death, the teachers at Jackson wanted to do something to remember Olene and her spirit. They raised money for a buddy bench. At a small ceremony to introduce the bench to the students, a few of them shared their memories of Olene. One student wrote a short speech, talking about how Olene “helped her with schoolwork and made her a better person.”
The bench sits outside the cafeteria. The print, Buddy Bench in Memory of Nancy Olene, is purple, which was her favorite color. It’s also decorated with Saber paws to always remember her love for the school district and the students.