BLOOMINGTON — With some spending money in her pocket, Madison Robinson arrived early to a recent Scholastic Book Fair at Sheridan Elementary School.

A lover of art and writing, the 11-year-old wanted to browse the stacks before the fair grew busy. Principal Jen McGowan also dropped by the fair early.

“Madison overheard me telling another teacher how much my daughter would love a unicorn pointer and poster on display,” said McGowan.

After McGowan left the room, Madison grabbed the items her principal was eyeing and paid for them. She left the gift with the office secretary and went to class.

“Later, I was called to the office and Mrs. McGowan called my grandparents to tell them what I did. I like making people happy and excited,” said Madison.

McGowan said Madison’s grandparents, Robin and Vernon Casali, with whom she lives, were not at all surprised when they heard about Madison’s generosity.

“This is something Madison just does because she has true character and she does think of others,” said McGowan.

The fifth-grader participates in Student Council, reading clubs, Students Involved in Technology, after-school programs and is a Pratt Music Foundation scholarship recipient.

“I like being involved at school because I like getting to know the students around me and making their days easier,” said Madison.

Her love of school didn’t always come easy. Before moving in with her grandparents, Madison had a challenging life at home.

"It was around second grade when I had some issues with my mom in court. I just didn’t want to go anywhere but stay at home and curl up in my blankets,” said Madison.

“My teachers changed that,” she said. Madison found support and inspiration from faculty at Sheridan.

“They helped me get involved in more programs to make my school education more enjoyable,” she said. “To students who are going through the same thing, I would say persevere. It's good to have an adult to talk to and things will get better if you talk about your problems."

Madison has tutored younger students and regularly helps her first-grade neighbor with his homework.

“School is important to me because my grandparents always tell me they want me to get an education so I don’t have to work all the time and come home tired, with a little money and aching bones,” said Madison. “I want to make them proud.”

Madison said her grandparents are her best friends. She reads the Bible every night with her grandma and they “pray to have good dreams.” Madison said her grandpa is laid back and lets her eat ice cream before dinner.

Madison has usual preteen hobbies like playing Pokemon Go with her grandpa, practicing violin and video-chatting with friends, but McGowan said the young student is “wise beyond her years.”

After Bloomington Junior High and High School, Madison has her sights set on Yale University. She wants to study education, become a teacher, get married and raise a family.

“When I'm a mom, I want to teach my kids how to be kind, get a good education, and to be a calm person and have great friendships,” said Madison.

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


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