Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/13/2014 10:36 AM

Moving Picture: Mundelein school kids call him 'Grandpa'

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Video: Moving Picture: Grandpa Mark

  • Grandpa Mark Stein works with a second-grader in Heidi Sansone's class at Washington School in Mundelein.

       Grandpa Mark Stein works with a second-grader in Heidi Sansone's class at Washington School in Mundelein.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Stein reads to kindergartners at Washington School in Mundelein.

       Mark Stein reads to kindergartners at Washington School in Mundelein.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Stein checks on his grandson Max Weir in his second-grade class at the school.

       Mark Stein checks on his grandson Max Weir in his second-grade class at the school.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Stein cracks a smile while riding bikes with his grandson.

       Stein cracks a smile while riding bikes with his grandson.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Stein spends quality recreation time with his grandson Max Weir. The two often ride bikes and kayak together.

       Mark Stein spends quality recreation time with his grandson Max Weir. The two often ride bikes and kayak together.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Grandpa Mark Stein helps out in Heidi Sansone's second-grade class at Washington School where his grandson Max Weir is a student.

       Grandpa Mark Stein helps out in Heidi Sansone's second-grade class at Washington School where his grandson Max Weir is a student.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Stein chats with teachers at Washington School.

       Mark Stein chats with teachers at Washington School.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

"Grandpa Mark" is a school treasure. Just ask the students and faculty at Washington Elementary School in Mundelein.

Students are so in love with Mark Stein that the school has worked him into a full-time volunteer job, helping out in kindergarten through second-grade classes. For the past three years, Stein has volunteered at Washington from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Grandpa Mark, as he is called, works with kindergartners on numbers and with second-graders on word games and whatever else the teachers may need in assistance.

"Kindergartners are a whole lot of fun to watch as they learn. They have such expressions on their faces when they learn and finally get it -- it's just amazing to see," said Stein, 61.

One student who works with Stein is Jacob Hall, 8.

"He is focused on helping us. I feel a lot smarter after he leaves," Jacob said.

Stein started volunteering after he retired from his engineering job at AT&T four years ago. His daughter handed him a flyer that said Washington School needed volunteers.

It just so happened that his grandson Max Weir, now 8, was starting kindergarten at the same time, so he asked the teacher if he could volunteer in Max's kindergarten class. She said yes, and he's followed Max straight through ever since.

"He is in second grade this year. … Next year he moves to Mechanics Grove School across town for third grade. I have to talk to the third-grade teacher to see if she needs a volunteer in her class, but I think I might come back here and work with kindergartners," Stein said.

So how did he get the moniker "Grandpa Mark?"

Kindergarten teacher Mary Weeks asked him when he started what he wanted to be called. Mr. Stein sounded too formal, Mark sounded too informal for kids. Weeks suggested Grandpa Mark, and it stuck.

"He helps out at their work stations, so when I'm with reading groups, he's walking around helping the kids stay on task," said second-grade teacher Heidi Sansone. "He is so patient with the kids -- an excellent role model for them."

Stein, who during his free time enjoys biking and kayaking with his grandson, says it's been a learning experience for him too.

"I never knew how to teach a kid to learn until I observed teachers doing it," he said. "They were my mentors; I kind of picked that up. And it's been very rewarding for me, watching 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds learn."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.