Quiet hero leads holiday sharing and caring
On December 16, Kristin Duran helps fourth grader, Zach, wrap a gift for the family his classroom adopted.
Article and photo by Elean Gersack
For twelve years, Kristin Duran has been a big part of Buffalo Ridge Elementary School. Yet, much of what she does is behind the scenes and is not well known. Depending upon the year and budget allowance, her role varies between volunteer coordinator; developmental reading assessment (DRA) and response to intervention (RTI) coordinator, and in-house substitute teacher. She sometimes does it all, but always goes above and beyond and does much of it on her own time.
Duran is one of those quiet heroes. She analyzes each and every kindergarten through third grade student’s reading several times each year to make sure they are receiving the support or challenges they need. As the in-house substitute teacher, she is ready to step into a class at the drop of a hat. She also single-handedly started the Adopt-a-Family program at the school twelve years ago (originally called Helping Hands, Giving Hearts). The program has been going strong ever since.
Duran works with a local church to identify families in the community who are in greatest need. “People reach out to churches when they have a need. The religion piece doesn’t matter,” said Duran. This year, eleven families were adopted. Some classes choose one family, some classes team-up and others tackle separate outruereach programs altogether.
The classes that adopt families collect specific items for moms, dads, other adults and children based upon a wish list. Many times, teachers or classroom volunteers deliver the goods after they have been wrapped, but Duran quickly steps in to help out whenever needed. “Delivering the items has the biggest impact. It is wonderful to meet the families and see the gratitude,” said Duran.
Duran also organizes other outreach programs for the school — such as the Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Center winter clothing drive and student created holiday cards for our troops. Her “project shoe box” program was a favorite. Classrooms were given shoe boxes to fill with toiletries, a class photo and letters and then were sent to soldiers overseas. To Duran’s surprise, the soldiers sent heartfelt thank you letters and photos back to the school. She created a keepsake book and keeps it in her office for all to see.
“I love what I do. At the end of the day, I feel like I make a difference and I am lucky enough to work with wonderful kids and people,” said Duran.