You can find Elizabeth Poinsett at Park Lodge Elementary School every week at 8:30 a.m. sharp. The 98-year-old volunteer devotes time each week to help the school’s second-graders master reading skills. She has volunteered at Park Lodge since the school reopened in 1997, and keeps meticulous notes on each child.
“I love children and I want to see them succeed,” said Poinsett. “I chose second-graders, because reading is the foundation of all education, and things really take off after second grade.”
Education is second nature to Poinsett who is the daughter of Iva Alice Mann. Mann held many duties in Lakewood’s early schools, including administrative assistant and business manager. She was also a board member for nearly 20 years and was one of the original proponents of a unified school district, which we now know as Clover Park School District (CPSD).
Poinsett attended Park Lodge from 1918 to 1925. At that time, the school had first through eighth grades. She graduated from Stadium High School in 1929, because there were no high schools in Lakewood at that time.
“My mother knew that it was important to work together,” said Poinsett. “The teachers and principals from the five separate schools were not getting along, so she invited them to tea so that they could begin working together as one district.”
Mann’s commitment to education was passed on to her daughter. After high school, Poinsett attended the College of Puget Sound, graduating in 1933. She completed her “fifth year” at the University of Washington, and became a teacher in the Fife School District, where she created a comprehensive reading program. After retiring in 1974, she worked many years as a substitute teacher and tutored homeschooled children.
“I’ve never really stopped teaching and I don’t want too,” said Poinsett.
Poinsett encourages every community member to get involved in education. To get started, contact your local school. A directory of schools is available on the CPSD Web site, www.cloverpark.k12.wa.us.