NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Leanne Bradley is more than a consumer science teacher for many of her students. She often knows what they need; before they need it. Her caring nature has caught the attention of many a student.
"Do you have any questions over the two documents that I want you to study for your test," asked Bradley on a Monday morning in her food safety class. "If you will clean out your books, I think that's going to make it a lot better for you."
Bradley has no idea of that just outside her classroom door a small contingent of friends, family and school administrators were gathering to honor her.
After a letter was submitted by one of her former students, Bradley was selected to be February's Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner.
"Mrs. Bradley, today is your lucky day," I said. "One of your students tells us, 'Mrs. Bradley is the sweetest person ever--because no matter what needs to be done, you do it. You see a student that needs a ride and you want to keep them safe, you give them a ride. You wash clothes. Whatever it is, you're not afraid of doing it.'"
"You love these students a lot don't you?" I ask. "I do love my kids a lot," Bradley said. "I am a third generation family consumer science teacher. Both of my grandparents taught. My grandpa taught ag and my grandma taught home economics (classes). It's in our blood."
"She's an awesome teacher," Dr. Larry Bennett, Newport Special School District Superintendent, said. "She's very personable. She gets along great with kids. Kids love her. They believe in her."
So much so, that it was a former student at Newport who wrote the letter that nominated Mrs. Bradley.
"Oh, my gosh! I'm so happy," Sarah Davis said. Sarah didn't know her letter nominating Mrs. Bradley was a winner until today. Now a student at Southside Middle School in Batesville, she got to come back to Newport for the big surprise.
"She goes way past what most teachers would do for anybody and it's not just in school," Davis said. "It's out of school, too."
"I have a drawer of plenty," Bradley said. She knows her students well. "I never want a student to come to school and maybe they don't have deodorant at home, or maybe they don't have a toothbrush."
So, she takes her own money to stock a drawer full of things students might need. She's maintained a closet or drawer to meet student needs in all three of the school districts where she has taught: Vilonia, Cave City and now Newport.
"They just go to it and quietly get what they need," Bradley said. "I would see her doing it for people who weren't in her class or her grade and I thought it was just really awesome," Davis said.
"I cannot control the environment they that go home to," Bradley said. "But when the come into my room, I just want them to breathe and just have no worries."
So maybe a little cash...
"Two hundred, three hundred, four hundred, five, six, seven eight. $408 dollars!" the crowd gathered around Bradley applauds and cheers.
"I just wanted to congratulate you on behalf of First Community Bank," Deania Vanhoozer said. "Thank you for all you do for your community."
"This is very humbling because I know a ton of co-workers at three different schools that I've taught at-- and teachers all across the state that do every bit as much as I do," Bradley said.
"It's very important that we get quality people in the classroom," Dr. Bennett said.
"This is my food safety class," Bradley said pointing to her students. She teaches students proper food preparation through a school-wide restaurant called the Hungry Hound Cafe. She also works to provide a safe haven during the difficult years as a teen growing up.
"I want them to be ok," Bradley said with tears in her eyes. "I tell them the very first week of school that my room is a safe room."
"She is what a good teacher is," Dr. Bennett said.
"No matter what's going on, she's always kind," Davis said.
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