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Volunteer spirit alive at SCC Middle School

Sixty-five-year-old Faye Nelson has battled lung cancer in both lungs and congestive heart failure, but that hasn't stopped her volunteer spirit.

Nelson can be found working once a week at the school store at St. Croix Central Middle School, peddling pens, pencils, paper and other items necessary to keep the flow of learning going at the school.

"It's nice to know that we (school store) sell strictly school supplies," Nelson said.

The grandmother of eight says that besides being able to see two of her grandchildren and their friends, she enjoys the friendliness of the staff and the good-hearted nature of the students.

"All the kids and the staff are just terrific," Nelson said.

Besides selling the learning supplies, Nelson counts the money and makes sure everything balances out. She also does a lot of observing of the activities at the school and says she's impressed with how the school functions each day.

"I'm impressed with how people have to sign in (when they enter the school)," she said. "They don't allow just anyone free range of the schools."

"It's nice to know there's not a lot of strangers walking around," she said. "I even have to sign in."

She also observes the spending habits of the youngsters in the school and how they vary among grade levels.

"It's more active when the seventh and eighth graders come," she said, "they usually have more money."

Nelson also notices the differences between today's school culture and the culture of schools when she attended classes in Hudson, where she graduated in 1960.

"The biggest difference (from when she went to school) is how relaxed the staff is. All the men wore suits and ties and the women all wore dresses," she remembered.

The less-formal attire of the teachers in today's school isn't the only thing Nelson notices about the staff. She also likes the interaction between teachers and students and the attention teachers at St. Croix Central pay to their pupils

"I'm impressed that when students ask questions, the staff looks at the students directly in the eyes and concentrates on them, one on one," Nelson said.

"In the past, teachers were more formal and reserved," she remembered. "It's a different style of teaching (today), I enjoy seeing the difference."

Before volunteering her time at the Middle School, Nelson worked as a bookkeeper at the River Falls Journal. After working there for five years, she was forced to leave when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

After having one lung removed, Nelson went back to work for a newspaper, this time at the Hudson Star Observer, again as a bookkeeper. However, it wasn't long that she discovered she had cancer in her other lung. The discovery of the cancer prompted Nelson to leave the Star Observer.

Today the cancer is in remission, and Nelson uses her volunteer job to help her pass the time. She and her husband Dennis also volunteer at Treasures from the Heart in River Falls. Treasures from Heart is a second-hand store that raises money for hospice.

All four of Nelson's children: Darrell Nelson, Steve Nelson, Denise Scott and Anton (Tony) Nelson attended St. Croix Central Schools. Today Nelson looks forward to seeing her grandchildren, attending ball games and watching them grow up.

"It's (working at the school) a good way to keep myself involved, emotionally and physically," Nelson said.