Monday, September 20, 2004

She's in school five days a week

Retiree finds plenty of tasks to do at Covedale

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

Whether Eleanor Lieberman is shopping at a local market, walking around her neighborhood, or strolling the hallways of Covedale Elementary School, she hears dozens of voices ringing out, "Gramma, Gramma!"

Nearly everyone who knows her and some who don't call her that. Lieberman particularly gets a kick out of being in public places when children, of various ages and races, call out to her and run up to give her a big hug.

Eleanor Lieberman is known as "Gramma"
(Enquirer photo/TONY JONES)
It's no wonder the Covedale mother of three with six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter is so well known and so popular. Lieberman, who'll turn 81 on Wednesday, has been a volunteer at Covedale Elementary more than 17 years. She has a ready smile and a warm hug for everyone.

At the end of each school year, Lieberman, who has worked about six hours a day, five days a week, tells the staff she's not sure if she will be able to volunteer next year.

"They throw a fit, and I always come back," Lieberman said. "My health's extremely good, but I have a bad back. I don't bend any more than I have to, I can't stand for hours on end like I used to."

But that doesn't slow her down, and she rarely says no, even if she's already headed out the door. Lieberman, known as the "Jackie of all trades," no longer needs to ask what needs to be done. She just jumps in and does it all - "except windows," she joked. She runs copies, files, corrects papers, fills out reports, tutors, helps students with reading and spelling, and helps with field trips.

"I do this to help the teachers. They are so bogged down with work, there are just not enough hours in the day for them," said Lieberman, who began volunteering when her grandchildren started school, years before retiring from her job in the Cincinnati Law Library. "I decided to help in the kindergarten class. Then another teacher heard about me, then another. Soon I was working five days a week."

In 2003, she won a "Going the Extra Mile" award from Cincinnati Public Schools. In one nominating letter, teacher Debi McCrae called Lieberman "my angel. I've never seen any volunteer more dedicated, caring and hard working than Gramma. She's blessed our entire school. She watches out for the children here. If she sees anyone in need, she stops to help."


Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at or fax to 513-755-4150.

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