A newsmaker you should know: At 80, Ruth White is a tireless tutor for children

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Although longtime McKeesport resident Ruth White retired in 2001, she hasn't slowed down.

Ms. White, 80, who has lived in the city since 1984, was honored with a plaque last month by the McKeesport Area school board for a decade of "selfless service" to students in McKeesport.

McKeesport schools spokeswoman Kristen Giran said Ms. White cried when she received the plaque during the school board meeting.

Ms. White spends 20 hours a week -- five hours a day, Monday through Thursday -- throughout the school year tutoring elementary school students in reading and assists teachers with games and story time.

"It's just fun time with the children," she said.

Ms. White earned a bachelor's degree in religious education in the 1960s and taught Sunday school classes and vacation Bible school before moving on to health care work.

She's taken that teaching experience and applied it to schools in her community. Last year, Ms. White read more than 100 children's books to students at Centennial Elementary School, in addition to tutoring students and assisting teachers.

She also buys children's books to give to students.

"I give children books for their birthdays and as awards at the end of school," she said.

Ms. White said her desire to keep tutoring stems from a desire to be faithful to her community.

"I feel we need to treat everybody the same. ... We have to be kind to them," she said. "We can't solve evil with evil. You have to solve evil with good. You have to solve hatred with love."

Ms. White described herself as "the extraordinary oddball" and attributes her longevity to how she lives: She said she's never been arrested, taken drugs, consumed alcohol or smoked a cigarette. She also said she doesn't use "foul English."

Despite being heavily involved in volunteerism, she said she's very private and prefers to spend quiet time and home reading or writing.

"This is the way I choose to live, and because of it I've lived this long," she said.

neigh_east - neigh_south

Annie Siebert: asiebert@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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