California Educator

December 2018 / January 2019

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Page 62 of 75

Annie Finney, second-grade teacher at Children's Community Charter School and president of Children's Community Charter School Teachers Association, reads to students at the Chico Library. Heroes, Helpers, Family CTA members step in to care for students and each other in wildfire disaster T H E D E A D L Y A N D D E V A S T A T I N G Paradise wildfire saw myriad acts of bravery and selflessness among educators, and now in the aftermath many are working hard to help their students recover and their communities rebuild. e digital counterpart to the Educator magazine,, features several moving stories that illustrate this generosity of spirit. Among them was "A Trip to Paradise," where our reporter writes of elementary school teachers and CTA members who hold class for their students at a public library in nearby Chico. e effort helps bring children a modicum of normalcy to their disrupted lives: At the library, excited kids run up to teachers Annie Finney, Sheri Eichar and Brittany Bentz, giving long hugs before turning to find their friends. Tired parents share emotional moments and updates with the three educators. A man hands Finney a thick stack of gift cards intended for the families of her students. "Who do I tell them it's from?" she asks. "Just tell them it's from somebody who cares," he replies. The teachers distribute the cards as parents arrive, each time eliciting tears of gratitude. The three educators have been angels to these families, providing rooms full of relief items, thousands of dollars in gift cards for food and other items, and now, giving their kids a piece of familiarity with school at the library. The children's section of the Chico Library has probably never been this lively, but nobody minds. Truth be told, the laughter and excitement of children is much needed as this com- munity mourns. Parents swap tales while their kids play and laugh and write about what they are thankful for. Laura Sutherland-Mangold, whose daughter Machara attends the school, says it means everything just to see the kids smile. "The teachers love our kids so much to give them a chance to see each other and provide a piece of normalcy," she said. "It's like a family at our school, and it really shows at a time a like this." Brittany Bentz, first-grade teacher at Children's Community Charter, hugs a student during the makeshift class at the library. 61 D E C E M B E R 2 018 / J A N U A R Y 2 019 CTA & You

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