Joe Ann Heap loves to be around young people.

The 77-year-old enjoys their love of life and their vitality.

“They’re busier than a cat with two tails,” she said. “They keep me entertained.”

Heap is a volunteer hall monitor at Bozeman High School, where she worked as a custodian and study hall teacher for 35 years.

Heap’s husband died when she was 30, leaving her a single mom with four kids to take care of – that’s when she first got her custodial job at BHS.

“I know how to work,” she said.

Heap eventually retired but returned to be around youths. She reminds them to wear their hall passes, pick up their trash, and treat each other respectfully. She also helps brighten their days – a group of students talking about Heap said she is usually smiling and is rarely down.

Val Richards, a secretary at the school, recently recalled a motto that Heap often repeats: “You’ve got to get up, get your face washed and get going.”

Heap loves sports and attends many basketball and football games. She knows the athletes and has been known to bake them cookies for state tournaments.

“She cares very much about the kids,” Richards said, adding that many of those who know her call her “Grandma Heap.”

“She’s a class act,” said Cynthia Luebbe, a health enhancement teacher at the school. “She’s a giver. She will treat you like you are family at all times.”

Richards agreed.

“She’s one of the rare, wonderful human beings in this world that are just here to do good,” she said.

Carly Flandro may be reached at 582-2638 or