Lucinda Parks-Kenner has made a difference in her pupils' lives.
Barry Pitts, the principal of Leavelle McCampbell Middle School, said Mrs. Parks-Kenner, a volunteer Spanish teacher at the school for 13 years, has a special rapport with youngsters.
"The kids will seek her out for help," Mr. Pitts said. "The middle school years are unique in a sense. That's when they're transforming from a child to an adult, and she helps them manage the transition."
Mrs. Parks-Kenner retired in 1986 after teaching high school English, French and Spanish in Walnut Cove, N.C., Denmark, S.C., and at the former Schofield High School in Aiken County.
"My philosophy of teaching is to teach the total child," Mrs. Parks-Kenner said. "If he needs to be taught discipline, I do that. If he needs to be taught about the way of life, I believe in doing that. So, to me, it's more than subject matter. The most important part of all is to be a living example for them."
Youngsters today have different challenges than in years past, she said.
"There are so many secular distractions for these young people today," Mrs. Parks-Kenner said. "I don't think they have enough positive role models, and in a lot of cases there is not enough parental involvement."
When she leaves Leavelle McCampbell each day, Mrs. Parks-Kenner tutors pupils at Friendship Baptist Church in Aiken.
"Actually, my hobby is working," said the mother of three grown children. "That may sound bad to some people but not to me.
"I leave one job, go to another one, and every time I change hats I get rejuvenated. I could just work, work, work."
Mr. Pitts said Mrs. Parks-Kenner fills a vital role for Leavelle McCampbell, which does not have the funding to hire a foreign language teacher.
"She's been a jewel, I can say that," Mr. Pitts said. "She does everything for the kids and tries to make sure they stay on track with their lives.
"The kids love her - and of course she loves them."
Reach Nathan Dickinson at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109, or firstname.lastname@example.org.