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Everyday Heroes: Tying shoes...and so much more for kindergartners

Volunteer Steve Cade volunteers in Mrs. Miller's kindergarten class at Lewis & Clark Elementary School in St. Helens. (KATU)

This week's Everyday Hero is very good at tying shoes in double knots for 5 and 6-year olds, and then tying them again soon after.

But as veteran kindergarten teacher Jean Miller tells us, his helping hands go way beyond untied shoes.

Some days, the 23 kids in Mrs. Miller's kindergarten class at Lewis & Clark Elementary School in St. Helens are so glad to see volunteer Steve Cade, they cheer and nearly knock him down.

For Miller, who retires at the end of this year after 40 years of teaching, the extra set of hands is a blessing.

“I literally would not have succeeded this year without Steve Cade here every day,” she said. “When he's not here it's really hard.”

Cade volunteered with Mrs. Miller at another school, and then five years ago, he moved with her as a volunteer to Lewis & Clark.

That's despite suffering a series of five strokes that slows his speech but does not affect his compassion and commitment.

Miller says some of the children don't have a positive male role model other than Mr. Cade.

“There are kids who gravitate to him on a daily basis, that need that positive role model of what a kind man is, you know, in their life,” Miller said.

Cade provides that....and more.

“For those people who have never been in a public school room with 23 kinders, they may not understand this, but literally having someone to tie shoes is huge,” Miller explained.

Cade himself is impressed by the children.

At the beginning of the school year, most couldn't write a complete sentence. Now, they’re writing stories.

His mere presence, Cade believes, helps them communicate with adults.

“A lot of them didn't associate with grownups and stuff, but now I think I've helped them do that, so they're not afraid of the adults,” Cade said. “We're here to help them.”

Miller says Mr. Cade also collates her newsletter, applies bandages for "owies," reads the kids' journals and more importantly - listens.

“One of the kinders said ‘Thank you for listening to me...,’ and I think that for a 6-year old, that's really insightful," Cade said.

And the kids help Cade, too.

“I miss them if I don't get to come here,” he said.

Mrs. Miller said despite behavior issues, her class this year has been phenomenal, turning in the best reading scores she's ever seen.

Some of the credit goes to Steve Cade who plans to continue volunteering with another teacher next year.

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