Learning addition can be tough when your toes hurt.
That’s what Manatee Elementary School second-grade teacher Sandra Patterson learned last year from one of her most difficult students. He hadn’t had new shoes in two years. When she bought him a new pair, his behavior improved dramatically.
So on Tuesday, each of the students in her class received a surprise after lunch: a brand new pair of shoes — an early Christmas present for students who may not be getting much more.
Lynne Callahan and Lisa Morrison, representatives from Michael Saunders and Company, presented the shoes to the students. Callahan heard from her friend Patterson how much the new shoes changed the boy’s behavior last year, so she rallied the support of her coworkers at Michael Saunders to purchase each of the 17 students a new pair of shoes.
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The visitors smiled as the students eagerly unwrapped their new Nike, New Balance and Under Armour kicks.
I feel so much quicker with these.
David Mercury, a second-grader at Manatee Elementary School
“I feel great because it’s like I don’t have many shoes that have ties,” said David Mercury, 7, as he pointed to his new blue Nikes, decorated with lightening bolts. “I feel so much quicker with these”
Yanixan Sostenes-Marin, 7, agreed.
“We look so fast,” Sostenes-Marin said.
While most of the students in the class put on their new shoes, Sa ‘Niyah Waiters kept hers in the box. She said she was going to wait until Christmas Eve to put them on for the first time to surprise her mother.
School board Chairman Charlie Kennedy came by Patterson’s classroom to watch the presentation, and once the children had opened the boxes he helped students remove the tissue paper from inside the shoes and tie their laces.
“As always (the highlight was) spending one-on-one time with the kids,” Kennedy said. “The little ones are always the best.”
Kennedy praised Michael Saunders and Company for supporting the giveaway, describing their involvement as “another great example of the school district’s partnerships with local businesses to support our kids.”
Patterson said the need among her students was reinforced during last year’s holiday season. She gave each student a pillow, and one student asked her how to use it.
“Some of them won’t have Christmas at home, so I try to have it here,” Patterson said. “Some of my students last year didn’t get anything except what they got here.”