Super Senior: Ruby Gonyea - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Ruby Gonyea

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ALBURGH, Vt. -

It might be near the end of the school year for the kids at the Alburgh Elementary School, but in Mrs. Giroux's first-grade class they're ready to read.

"OK, read to me," Giroux said.

This teacher has help.

"Come on, do you want to come up and work with grandma?" Ruby Gonyea asked a student.

It's from a 92-year-old named Ruby Gonyea.

Reporter Joe Carroll: If these walls can talk, all the kids you met.

Ruby Gonyea: Oh, you know it. I can't count them on my fingers anyway.

Ruby is a foster grandparent who for 32 years has been tutoring scores of students, all that time with teacher Tracy Giroux.

Joe Carroll: You guys kind of have a marriage.

Tracy Giroux: We do, we do. I don't know how I would do it without her.

Tracy was a new teacher and Ruby was looking for another job after years of doing service jobs. They're not only co-workers, but friends.

"We've just been together for a really long time," Tracy said. "We've gone through a lot of things together, very, very special person."

When Tracy's husband died suddenly, it was Ruby who was there for her.

"She was the person who greeted me in school. She gave me a big hug. She told me she would help me do anything I needed to do," Tracy recalled.

The love and admiration for Grandma Ruby doesn't end there. First-graders told us Grandma Ruby is awesome and helps them with reading and any problems they have. One student also noted that Ruby is in great shape for being 92. Candid comments from first-graders.

Joe Carroll: You don't have kids.

Ruby Gonyea: I had a little girl, but it died at birth... yup.

Perhaps that's the reason she loves coming to work, to surround herself with what she never had: children.

Joe Carroll: What do you get out of this?

Ruby Gonyea: Well, it gives me the spirit to get up and go in the morning.

Ruby was born just down the road in North Hero.

Joe Carroll: You graduated from high school here?

Ruby Gonyea: No, all I went was the eighth grade.

When her father died, she went to work to support the family.

Joe Carroll: You've always been a hard working Vermonter.

Ruby Gonyea: You betcha. It keeps you going.

She married Otto at 19.

Joe Carroll: How did you meet?

Ruby Gonyea: I went to a dance with another guy and came back with him... I don't know how the other guy got home!

Otto died in 1996. Now Ruby takes care of all of the chores, including mowing the lawn. But it's the school that keeps her busy. She works Monday through Wednesday, 20 hours a week.

Joe Carroll: Do you think you are a Super Senior?

Ruby Gonyea: I think I am.

Joe Carroll: Because?

Ruby Gonyea: Well. when you have all the kids, some of them are on the honor roll, some of them have graduated, you say, well, I helped them get started.

Shows that even a person with an eighth-grade education can teach a thing or two about life.

"I have no regrets," Ruby said. "Life is what you make it."

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