Meet Michael Mokotoff: TDS volunteer

Meet Michael Mokotoff:  TDS volunteer
"Michael Mokotoff has been volunteering at The Day School since 2010.  He brings an attentive, engaging spirit to the class and consistently presents a kind and genuine vibe to our classroom space every day he is here. His years of life experience teach us something new every day he’s in class—his wisdom and knowledge are absorbed with delight!

At over 80 years old, I think Michael gives us a glimpse at what our best retired life could look like.  He proves that unselfish service to others is a key ingredient to the life-well-lived recipe—perhaps revealing why he’s so active and spry!"

—Keith Brednich, The Day School teacher

After I retired from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, I was interested in giving back to the Pittsburgh community through volunteering, specifically with children. I saw a TV advertisement for The Children's Institute and thought since I had been so fortunate to raise three children with my wife of over 50 years, and enjoy seven grandchildren, why not spread the love to more amazing children?

My role in the many different classrooms that I have volunteered has always been to support the teachers and aides in anyways I can. That might include feeding the students lunch, reading to them, helping with transport, and participating with them in varied activities such as gym, art, music, library, social skills, etc.—whatever is scheduled for that day. At the end of the school day, I help get ready for dismissal and, with supervision, wheel them to their buses.

Fun Fact! Michael met two students who were around eight years old when he started volunteering back in 2010 whom he still works with today!

A typical Wednesday volunteer day in Mr. Keith Brednich’s classroom usually begins by individually greeting each of the students by name and with a smile. I then help Keith with his presentations for the day’s weather and how to dress for said weather, as well as the “news of the day." I wheel the students to the board so they may answer questions based on what they just learned. After, and if time permits, I read from the book, "Little House on the Prairie" which Keith has been reading to the children on other days. After lunch, I accompany the students to their social skills class. Soon after, it's time to help the students get ready for dismissal.

My undergraduate college degree was in pharmacy, and I practiced as a licensed pharmacist for one year in New York City. I then returned to graduate school, receiving my Ph.D. degree (Univ. of Wisconsin) in medicinal chemistry in 1966. I  took a post-doctoral appointment in medicinal chemistry research at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland before moving to Pittsburgh for a faculty position at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy in 1968. There I taught chemistry-based courses and conducted medicinal chemistry research, before retiring in 2006, as Professor Emeritus after 38 years at Pitt.

Prior to the pandemic, my wife and I liked to travel on adventurous trips to exotic places such as Kenya, Tanzania, Australia, and Madagascar, mostly to photograph the animals, learn about the countries, and meet the people. We love visiting with our children and grandchildren.

At The Children's Institute, volunteers play a vital role in all of our programs. The time and help that volunteers provide is an amazing gift to the children and families we serve. Become a volunteer today!

Cara Wiegand-Bard
Creative Design Manager

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