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Volunteers at Olsen Middle School in Dania Beach lead by example

Miami Proud: Volunteers at Olsen Middle School in Dania Beach lead by example
Miami Proud: Volunteers at Olsen Middle School in Dania Beach lead by example 03:04

FORT LAUDERDALE - Herman Smith offers a friendly "Good morning, good morning!" as he greets students in the drop-off line at Olsen Middle School in Dania Beach.

He's a one man welcome wagon. Smith arrives every day just after 6 a.m. ready to greet the kids in the drop-off line.

"I think it's always good to see a friendly face, someone that's here because he wants to be here," Smith said.

Smith is no stranger to Olsen. He worked there for 19 years as a guidance counselor after retiring from the U.S. Air Force. Now he's back as a volunteer and making Miami Proud.

"When you help children," he said, "You get to feel like a hero every day. I just like that feeling."

He also likes the feeling of seeing former students dropping off kids of their own, or others who've become successful adults, like Tatiana Cummings, who he saw arriving at school.

"She was one of my students, now she's an assistant principal. Every time I see her, I just swell up with pride," Smith said.

He's also tasked with keeping the drop-off line moving.

"Come on buddy, keep this train on the tracks," he told a student while waving him toward the front door.

His mission is to get students to class on time.

"Go straight down to class, the bell already rang. The bell rang already," he said.

Principal Janet Giancarli says Smith helps set the tone.

"You're not just getting out of a car and running into the school. Someone is greeting you and recognizing you just arrived at school and it really sets an example of how need to treat one another," she said.

Students said he makes a difference.

"It means a lot, he cares," said 8th grader Kemari Jean-Baptiste.

"To me, it brings positive energy and feels very welcoming that he cares to say good morning and he cares to come back just for us," classmate Maleah Vilbrun said.

Smith isn't the only volunteer at Olsen. For 13 years Marilyn Babok has helped out in the office. She's another person that leads by example.

"Some of the kids feel, 'You're not working here, you don't get paid?' I say 'no,' they go, 'Oh.' But I enjoy volunteering, giving back," Babok said.

For Babok and Smith, the motivation is simple.

"Doing something for a child, I think, is the most important thing anyone can do to help make this world a better place," Smith said.

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