People: Bill and Doris Loran, instructional assistants

March 29, 2004|HERB BROCK

Just about every weekday morning, Bill Loran meets with some other people for what he calls their "breakfast club." But it's not your typical early morning social gathering at a local eaterie where folks talk about the war in Iraq, the presidential election or the University of Kentucky's chances in the NCAA basketball tournament between sips of coffee.

The people Loran meets with almost every weekday morning are much smaller and younger than the normal breakfast club crowd. And their topics have a lot more to do with gaining knowledge than spouting out opinions based on little or no knowledge.

As a former utility company executive and banker, Loran met often with his peers before work and at lunch to chat about current events and business. While he enjoyed those times, he seems to like even more meeting at Hogsett Elementary School at 7 a.m. most weekdays to help youngsters with their homework.


"I have fond memories of my experiences in my former careers, but I am really having a wonderful time helping children to get the most out of their educations," said Loran.

New career is something of a family affair

Loran's new career as an educator actually is something of a family affair. His wife, Doris, earlier had embarked on the same second career, and now they both serve as paid, part-time instructional assistants at Hogsett under the Danville school district's Title I program.

For five hours a day, five days a week, the Lorans work with students in grades 1-5, either in the Lorans' room or in the classrooms of the children. They help the students with every subject area, from reading to math, from science to social studies.

"Each teacher identifies a subject area that a student needs help in and then assigns that student to us, along with the materials we will use, whether it's a book to read, a history book to study or science workbook to fill out," said Doris Loran.

Bill Loran gets a head start on their workdays, showing up at school an hour before classes to help some students with their homework. Then, he and Doris spend the rest of the day working with small groups of children from most every class and grade in the school.

"When the children are done with their breakfast, I spend 45 minutes to nearly an hour going over their homework or guiding them while they complete it," said Bill.

Lorans get "A" for "awesome"

The Lorans' bosses say the couple's work has paid off in improved performances by the students in the classroom and on standardized tests. The couple get "A's" from Title I elementary resource coordinators Janice Johnson and Jomin Davis.

And that would be "A" for "awesome," according to Johnson.

"I can't think of any other word to use but awesome to describe the help that the Lorans have provided so many kids here at Hogsett," said Johnson. "With schools now under pressure to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers need as much help as they can get in making sure all children receive educations, and the Lorans are providing a lot of that help here at Hogsett."

"And, like Janice and I, the Lorans are literally all over the building all day, in their rooms, in classrooms, just about everywhere helping kids," Davis said. "We all need rollerskates."

Doris Loran was the first of the couple to get involved in the whirlwind world of helping teachers help kids learn. She largely had been a "stay-at-home mom," while raising the couple's now-grown children, Bill Loran, 29, of Johnson City, Tenn., and Ellen Greeley, 27, of Louisville, and also working in part-time positions in a child care program at The Presbyterian Church of Danville and at a doctor's office. She began working with children in the Danville district under a similar instructional assistant program three years ago.

"I believe I do have a gift working with and helping children. It's been my niche, whether at home or church or in schools," she said.

Bill Loran's niche for years had been as an engineer, businessman, utility company brass and banker. He worked for 22 years for Kentucky Utilities and served as vice president of Inter-County RECC (now Energy) and vice president at Central Kentucky Federal Savings Bank.

They met while students at Western

Loran left the business world not long ago. He said he didn't retire but was taking time to think about a whole new career. He liked what his wife was doing and decided he'd like to join her. Their careers as instructional assistants would be just another manifestation of a partnership that began when Bill, a native of Louisville, and Doris, from Horse Cave, met in the early 1970s as students at Western Kentucky University.

"Doris' life has been dedicated to working with and helping children, whether they were her own or other people's. While my career didn't involve children, I have always liked being with them and working with them as well," said Bill, who has been involved in the local sports scene, including an 18-year career as a soccer referee.

Bill got his inspiration for a new career from a book by Rick Warren advising people how to lead a "purpose-driven life."

"The book forced me to ask myself, 'am I doing what I want to do or am I doing what I need to do.' I decided I needed to help young kids get an education," he said. "It's been quite a change from working 50 hours or more a week in an office. But while I put in fewer hours, I'm getting more out of it."

He believes he's giving something as well as getting something from his new career.

"Both of our children went through the Danville school system, and the system's teachers prepared them both very well for college and careers," he said. "I see what I'm doing now as giving something back to the school system that gave so much to my kids."

Central Kentucky News Articles