Even at just six years old, Maynard Elementary kindergartners recognize how important a grandparent can be.

"I love you, Granny," one student told his "Granny Audrey."

"They call me Granny. Granny Audrey, but mostly granny. I am Granny so I love it!" said Audrey Sharp Monroe.

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Technically, Monroe is not the children's biological grandmother. She has four grandkids of her own.

"They're teenagers now, young adults, so they don't mind the competition," she said.

But Maynard Elementary students don't get caught up in technicalities. They give her hugs and words of praise just like she was their own.

"She's here for kids. She's just a good grandmother," said Maynard Elementary principal Kim Cullom.

Monroe spent 20 years working with children before she retired. She ran her day care for many of those.

"It really was just a few months and I decided I needed something to keep me occupied and what better to do than volunteer," she said.

She now donates 40 hours a week in the classroom.

"When we have Granny we can do a lot more independent work, a lot more skill based, specific things that we just can't do in large groups. It's great to have granny here," said kindergarten teacher Christine Rhodes.

"I see her in the hallway. She's reviewing letters and sounds, the kids just truly love working with her. They need her," said Cullom.

When she talks, the kids listen.

And at the end of the day, it's not about the lessons she taught them. It's about the feeling she leaves them with, that only a grandmother can give.

"I get just as much out of it as the children because they bring so much love. And that's everything," Monroe said.

The foster grandparent program is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year in Knoxville.

For more information, contact Knox County's Office on Aging.