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Scottsdale woman continues volunteering to teach art of penmanship to students at age 91

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 21:12:15-04

SCOTTSDALE — When 91-year-old Marilyn Harrer first stepped into a classroom to teach cursive handwriting, the year was 1951. In the seven decades since, she's seen a lot of students.

"I've wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade," Harrer explains.

Officially retired since 1997, Harrer now volunteers at Anasazi Elementary in North Scottsdale. Her students have some of the best penmanship in the state. Third grader McKenna Vick just won the state title in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

"Slanting your paper and taking your time," Vick says really helped her, as well as following Mrs Harrer's advice: "Try to make the shape and size the same."

Harrer says the art of handwriting is making a comeback these days, after falling out of favor in many schools for years.

"I think it's because research has proven a big connection between cursive handwriting and brain activity," says Harrer.

Harrer was forced to teach her class online this year, since volunteers weren't allowed on campus due to COVID-19. The last day of school was actually her first in the classroom this year.

But she has no plans to call it quits, saying she wants to keep teaching students the craft of cursive as long as they'll have her.