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Thanks to Teachers: Michelle Edwards

At Sand Hill Venable Elementary School, Michelle Edwards' special needs 3rd and 4th graders spend the day making 'friendship soup.' The kids pick out the 'good' ingredients for a friendship, written on small pieces of paper. They include things like playing together, and kind words. Ms. Edwards puts those papers into a bowl, and has the students 'stir' them with a large spoon. Meanwhile, 'bad' ingredients for a friendship, such as hitting, screaming and bullying, go in the 'trash' box. The small circle of students then exchanged friendship bracelets they made for each other.

Edwards says the close knit group did not begin this way. "In the beginning, they would not give encouragement to each other. Their world was more about themselves." But, building self esteem is big in Ms. Edwards' classroom. The teacher says it didn't take long for her students to bond. "If they feel good about themselves, then attacking the challenges they have with academics comes a lot easier, because they believe in themselves," says Edwards. "She's nice,and she does things for us because she likes us," says Aleah, one of Edwards' students. Edwards says Aleah and some of the other students gained confidence to do new things, like participate in a regular P.E. class. "Every time when we ran, we get like a higher level or something," says Aleah. "It's like a test of running really fast. I'm going to do that next time," she says.

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