February 27, 2012
It was just six years ago that Royce Poletti was a student at Brownsville Elementary in Albemarle County. And he enjoyed it so much he didn't want to leave.
“I love it over there," said Poletti, now a junior at Western Albemarle High School. "I grew up walking those very halls from kindergarten to 5th grade and just fell in love with the school."
So much that he's been volunteering at Brownsville before and after school for the past six years.
“I was very touched when I saw him back 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade and even at the high school. You normally don't see high schoolers wanting to get up extra early to come in, but every year he's been coming in and helping us,” said Louise Hyde, a teacher at Brownsville.
This year, he works mostly in Hyde's classroom helping with math, taking library books to the library or running attendance. His latest duty is helping second graders learn how to tell time.
“He can catch when kids are having trouble. If I'm working with one student and he sees another child struggling, he will go over and help that child," says Hyde.
Not only is he lending a helping hand during the school day he's there before the first bell. "At 7:40 I'll go out to the drop off zone at Brownsville and help the kids out of the cars and make sure the kids can get out of the cars alright,” he said.
After drop off duty, helping with second graders and a full day of class over at WAHS, Poletti comes right back to Brownsville Elementary most evenings. "If I know that there's a play going on or something and I can make it, I will try to go over and watch it and go over and volunteer a little,” he said.
Poletti says he could get extra credit for all those volunteer hours, but chooses not to. “I love doing this and I just go over there because I love going over there,” he said.
School leaders at Brownsville and Western Albemarle say for that reason and many more Poletti is a hero. He's always willing to give his time, share an encouraging word and put a smile on every face he meets.