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83-Year-Old’s Work At School Shows The Possibilities

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Photo Credit: Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

By GREG LARRY
The Times-News of Cumberland

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — At an age when many decide to take life easy, Cumberland resident Florine Taylor, 83, travels the halls of Braddock Middle School each day, doing her job to help teachers have more time for students.

“She is like the Energizer Bunny that keeps going and going,” said school counselor Shawnee McElfish. “She is an amazing woman.”

Taylor came to Braddock to do clerical work through the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

“The program is for those 55 or older,” said Chap Richardson of the Maryland Department of Aging.

The program allows seniors to work with government or nonprofit-based employers to gain new skills that will increase their ability to sustain employment.

“Florine is a real pleasure to work with,” said Richardson.

Taylor’s humble nature came through when she heard about the profile being done on her for the Times-News.

“I don’t deserve this,” said Taylor. “There are people who have done bigger things.”

However, McElfish and other staff members would differ with any characterization of Taylor’s contributions as being small.

“When she came here, she didn’t know how to use the copier,” said McElfish.  “Now she does copying, laminating and many other things.”

McElfish stressed that she doesn’t just do photocopies.

“She does double sides, sorting and complete packages,” said McElfish. “She is a hard worker.”

Jay Stevens, a seventh-grade geography teacher, is also pleased with Taylor’s accomplishments.

“She does a tremendous amount of work,” said Stevens.  “I tell her I feel bad for giving her all this work. She will tell me, `That’s what I’m here for.”‘

Taylor works Monday through Thursday. She comes in around 8:30 a.m. and leaves around 2 p.m.

“I love it here and I enjoy being around the students,” said Taylor. “The kids are polite and I’m treated well.”

Taylor recently priced all the items in the Santa Shop, a gift store set up for students to spend credits they earn called Braddock Bucks.

“She loves the kids,” said Danny Carter, the school’s principal.

“We’re very proud of her. It’s good for the kids to see her,” said Carter.

Born July 4, 1929, Taylor has lived through the end of the Great Depression, World War II, The Cold War, Vietnam and the social change of the 1960s, 9/11 and the technology boom of the 21st century.

She is also very articulate about local history.

“I was in the flood of ’36,” said Taylor. “My sister lived on Mechanic Street. I was visiting and staying upstairs. Someone came in and said, `We’re flooded.’ We went downstairs and saw all the water.”

Taylor has had relatives who worked at the Footer Dye Works and the Kelly-Springfield Tire Co.

“Her experiences have made her into the person she is,” said Stevens.

Taylor was born here and lives in South Cumberland.

She has worked at The Curtis Confectionary, Cut Rate Shoe Store, Head Start and as a legal assistant for Legal Aide.

She has three children and raised seven foster kids.

“Our first foster children were a set of twins,” said Taylor. “We loved it. We had a four-bedroom home.”

Child rearing only derailed Taylor for so long.

She went back to school in her 40s and took courses at Allegany College and Frostburg State before getting her degree in sociology with a minor in history.

“These days I’m a reader,” said Taylor, who doesn’t have a TV.  “There is not too much good on TV. I’m on my third reading of the Bible.”

McElfish and Stevens both hope she will continue to work at Braddock but Taylor keeps her options open.

“I want to write things down for the kids,” said Taylor.

Although in good health, Taylor had some issues in 2010 and received a pacemaker last year.

“I had thought about the Peace Corps, but with a pacemaker, you have to be around someone to take care of it if something goes wrong,” said Taylor.

Whatever she does, Taylor won’t be sitting around.

“I want to travel to visit relatives,” she said.

Taylor said her neighbors have a garden and last evening they brought her some homemade chicken noodle soup.

“I want to stay here in Cumberland,” said Taylor.

Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News, http://www.times-news.com/timesnew.html
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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