89-year-old 'Paw Paw' swaps tractor for tutoring
Posted October 14, 2020 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2020 11:23 a.m. EDT
Robbins, N.C. — Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, distance learning has brought a lot of families closer together.
Kids are taking online classes from home, getting one-on-one help from loved ones.
For a first-grader in Chatham County, math tutoring comes from "Paw Paw."
At a kitchen table filled with papers and pencils, 6-year-old Tori Mabe has some figuring out to do.
Luckily, her math tutor has plenty of hands-on experience in figuring.
"Well, I was a carpenter, you know. We had to use a lot of numbers in construction work," said Dougie Garner, otherwise known as 'Paw Paw.'
His credentials for tutoring? Eighty-nine years of figuring out life.
"I finished the ninth grade -- that's as far as I got in school," Garner said.
From there, he went to work with his uncle as a carpenter. Now, a couple days a week, he works with his great-granddaughter, a first-grader at Bennett Elementary, where all students are learning remotely.
Alison Mabe, Tori's mother, said Garner's "doing a good job with her ... better than I can."
Garner has lived his whole life along Flint Hill Church Road, raised on a farm. He raised three girls of his own and sometimes he adds a splash of pink to his tractor.
Tori often hops on for a ride. She helps Garner in the garden, canning vegetables he grows and learning math “the old fashioned way.”
“She didn’t know it was math – counting beans, counting corn, counting acorns, things like that,” described Mabe.