Scottsdale volunteer Dolly Cebulash brings joy of reading to area children

Dolly Cebulash (left) and Mary Keller (right) display "No Dragons for Tea" picture-story book they bring to Scottsdale area schools to introduce children to the joy or reading. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Dolly Cebulash (left) and Mary Keller (right) display “No Dragons for Tea” picture-story book they bring to Scottsdale area schools to introduce children to the joy or reading. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Dolly Cebulash has been volunteering with the Scottsdale Fire Department for the past five years, traveling to 19 elementary schools multiple times a year, teaching kindergarten and first graders the importance of fire, water and transportation safety.

Ms. Cebulash and her husband moved their business to Scottsdale in 1994 to escape the earthquakes in California after living in both the southern and northern parts of the state. The couple wrote and edited educational material for publishers prior to retiring a few years ago. Shortly after, Ms. Cebulash found herself getting bored easily.

“My friend Mary Keller, she had been in the same business, she said to me ‘you need to find something to do,’” said Ms. Cebulash in a phone interview on July 1.

The following week Ms. Cebulash saw an AD looking for volunteers to read stories to kids.

“I thought ‘that sounds up my alley’ so I went through the process of finger printing and becoming a volunteer,” said Ms. Cebulash. “I started, and then realized this isn’t just reading a story, you have to actually teach and get up in front of kids and do the whole thing.”

“I really liked it, I thought it was fun with the kids. So I just learned the talk and started doing it myself and going with a partner sometimes.”

Now Ms. Cebulash and that same friend, Ms. Keller, work as a team going around to the Scottsdale schools. She said one person will hold the book and conduct the talk while the other person assists with the items brought.

“They have an educational program and we go to all of the Scottsdale elementary schools, I think there’s 19, and we go to kindergarten and first grade,” said Ms. Cebulash. “We visit all of the schools at least two times, sometimes three. Not everyone does transportation but a lot do.”

Ms. Cebulash has written two activity books to complement the lesson and continue to learn at home, and is working on a book for transportation now, according to a bio provided by the city. She said the lessons include a talk with a book and a question-and-answer session, and the pair only visits one grade per day.

“It’s a lot because there are so many schools to visit,” said Ms. Cebulash. “The fun of it is the kids, and I keep doing it because it’s really fun.”

In addition to the activity books, the students will receive fire hats during the fire safety program and the fire fighters will come as well if they are not on a call.

“Scottsdale has great firefighters, really good guys, and they really like doing it with the kids too,” said Ms. Cebulash.

To get more information on volunteering with the city of Scottsdale, visit To get more information on volunteer with the fire department specifically, contact Maria at 480-312-1813.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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