Rubye Ogburn, Carpenter Elementary Foster Grandparent

Rubye Ogburn grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee. After high school, she went on to Austin Peay State University, where she ran track. After studying there for a while, she decided to change course and enrolled in the U.S. Army Reserve. There, she met the man she would marry, and the couple moved to his home state of Michigan. The couple had a daughter, Christina. Ogburn worked as a medical records clerk and later a medical assistant at the University of Michigan Hospital.

When she was 50, she enrolled at Washtenaw Community College and earned her associate’s degree in human resource management. She became a Foster Grandparent four years later, and she’s been working at Carpenter Elementary ever since.

“Grandma Rubye is the best because she comes to school energized and is always looking out for the students and the staff,” says kindergarten teacher Shawn Davis, in whose classroom Ogburn works. “She’s resourceful and she brings in her past experiences to help enrich our lessons. I don’t know where I would be without her and Carpenter is a much better place because of her.”

Why did you become a Foster Grandparent?
I first became a foster grandparent when I was 54. You have to be 55, but they let me in any way! My mom was a foster grandparent in Tennessee, and I used to go home and visit. And one day I went home to Tennessee to visit and I looked up at a billboard and there was my mom on a billboard for the Foster Grandparents, and I just thought: I want to do that when I’m old enough. And then so while I was here, I heard about it. And I was actually just volunteering at the time here. And I heard about it and the school wanted me to, you know, stay here. So I became a foster grandparent. The secretary asked for me to come to this school. I was 10 years ago and I’ve been here ever since.

Did you like it right away?
I did! I only have one child, Christina. She’s 38. I had two grandkids. Now I have four because she married into the family. I really enjoy it because when I first started here, my grandkids were here. My grandson is in the 11th grade now, and I was in kindergarten with him and Mr. (Shawn) Davis. Then I was in Mr. Davis’ room with my granddaughter when she was a kindergartener, and now she’s in ninth grade. It’s just meant the world to me to be here.

What do the kids call you?
They call me ‘Grandma.’

Describe an average workday. 
On an average workday, I come in and get out the kids’ folders and check and see if they have anything that needs to be checked. I normally wipe off the desks from the day before. I get ready for the kids to come in. I greet all the kids that come in and then I have a couple that I have sit with me—so we can have a good day!

What are some of the funniest/cutest things you’ve heard kids say lately?
That’s every day! I remember a kid called me Grandma. And another kid said, “Is that really your grandma?” They said, “Yes, that’s really my grandma!” So I told them I’m everybody’s grandma.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a Foster Grandparent working at an Ann Arbor Public School?
Oh my gosh, please do it, especially if you’re older. It’s so good for elderly people to have something to do. You know, to get you out of the house; to feel needed. I feel loved here. It’s my family. So it’s a very good opportunity for anyone that’s interested in joining.

Does the noise level in kindergarten classes ever become too much?
No, it does not. It gets really loud! But it never gets too much for me. I’m used to it.

What’s the most fun part of the job?
The most fun part of the job is getting all my hugs and “I love you!”s. I just want to cry. They make me feel so good here. So loved and welcomed here.

What’s the hardest part?
The hardest part of my job here is seeing the fifth graders leave because I’ve seen them since they were five.

How do you like working at Carpenter in particular?
I wouldn’t work at any other school. I love this school this is my home. This is my family

What’s the happiest part of your day?
The happiest part of my day is the morning time seeing all the little ones have made it in safely.

You’ve worked with kindergartener teacher Shawn Davis for many of the past 10 years. What impresses you about him?
He’s my favorite teacher in the whole wide world. The whole wide world! I love him to death. That’s my brother. He couldn’t be any better.

How do you spend your summers?
I work! I’m a Foster Grandparent in the summer programs at AAPS.

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