Two or three days each week, Cora Brinton volunteers in classes at the nearby South Colby Elementary School, offering students the benefit of her experience.
And at 92 years old, Brinton has a lot of experience to offer.
The Southworth resident is there to do whatever the teachers need, which typically involves some one-on-one time with one of the students. Recently, she helped one student figure out that though he hates his homework, it only takes five minutes to do and it’s out of the way.
Back at home later that same day, she stared at her pile of dirty dishes, remembered the lesson she shared with the student, and got up to take care of the chore in five minutes.
“I’m really learning right along with you,” she explained to the student.
It’s those moments where she and the student both leave a little wiser that keeps her working in the classroom, 20 years after she retired as the school’s secretary.
And it’s what made her the namesake for a South Colby Elementary School award. She was the first recipient in 2003 of “The Cora Brinton Humanitarian Award.”
South Colby Principal Brian Pickard often refers to her as the award itself, calling her “The Cora.”
But she’s quick to deflect the credit for student success or the work that she’s done for the school.
“To me, these are God given,” she said. “I don’t take that as personal credit at all. We’re here to listen and pass along what we hear.”
She doesn’t attend a church, but her work comes out of a sense of faith that she nurtures out of her own home.
“I have great faith,” she said. “And I just feel it’s a mission God has given me to do.”
Brinton has lived in Southworth her whole life, with her family coming to the area before many basic utilities arrived. But she thrives off of the community, highlighting her friends and family for keeping her hear and making her life a spiritual and educational adventure.
“I’m so grateful for the people in my life,” she said. “Family and friends are what keep me going.”
And go she does. Everywhere in the area, doing everything and never slowing doing.
In her kitchen, where she bakes her Easter hot-cross buns and watches the birds outside of her window, she demonstrates agility many middle-aged people couldn’t match.
Standing straight up, she leans down without wavering and touches the ground. She credits this to the ongoing Tai Chi classes she takes at the Masonic Lodge.
“That is something that anyone can gain from,” she said, encouraging young and old to take on the slow-moving exercise. “I know I wouldn’t be moving without it.”
And she shows no signs of slowing down. She understands her life will not continue forever, but she’s not holding back on what she’s doing now, and she’s not afraid of what may come down the road.
“There’s no fear — I may not know what’s on the next side, but it doesn’t matter,” Brinton said. “If this was such a great trip, the next might be better yet.”
And from all her years of work, she sees herself as always growing, and always learning, but it’s all starting to make sense to her.
“You know how you think you get it, and you lose it?” Brinton asks, admitting that this has happened to her many times in her life. “This is the first time in my life that I really get it.”