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Looking for the Helpers: Teacher maintains special tradition during distance learning

As our area is faced with ongoing changes due to a growing pandemic, we are bringing stories of people doing good in the community during a time of uncertainty.

Help us look for the helpers!

Happy Meals, Happy Students

Kindergarten teacher Andrea Lauderdale fondly remembers her first grade teacher who took her out for ice cream on her birthday.

When Lauderdale became a teacher 21 years ago, she wanted her students to feel as special as she did.

Every year, Lauderdale took her students to McDonald's on their birthdays and treated them to Happy Meals.

But, then the pandemic hit.

Lauderdale figured out a safe way to keep her tradition alive.

Now, she gets the Happy Meals to-go and eats lunch with her students and their parents outside on the campus of Vieja Valley Elementary School.

They sit on the grass spaced out more than six feet apart and wear masks until they are ready to eat.

"It just makes our time together special and I feel like it's one of the best days of the year with them, the day I get to take them out and have that special time at lunch with them," Lauderdale said.

Lauderdale said teachers are doing their best to stay connected to their students during this challenging time because it's the key to getting kids to learn.

"With distance learning going on in Santa Barbara and our state, it's been a real challenge to make those connections that you need with students when you are a teacher because that's how you are going to get them to want to learn and have them buy-in with what you are doing," she said.

Lauderdale has already celebrated two of her students birthdays since school started.

Know of any other helpers making a difference during these trying times? Send Alys an email and let her know!

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Alys Martinez

Alys Martinez is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Alys, click here.


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