America Strong: Burlington teacher guided students and families through pandemic

Local News

Local 22 and ABC News are profiling people making a difference in the community and the nation. On Tuesday, we met a Burlington teacher who went above and beyond to make sure her students had access to food and technology during the pandemic. Heidi Brown is America Strong.

Eighteen months ago, classrooms at Flynn Elementary School in Burlington were empty. While students had to learn remotely, teachers couldn’t remain distant.

“Our teachers went far and beyond with helping our families and students by just having the energy and reaching out to families,” Lashawn Whitmore-Sells, principal at Flynn Elementary School, said. 

Whitmore-Sells recalls the efforts of Heidi Brown, who teaches kindergarten through third grade.

“Heidi is every principal’s dream,” Whitmore-Sells said. “In a sense that she is a rockstar, she will extend herself in many different ways.”

Brown said she knew she had to prioritize her students in a time of uncertainty.

“And sometimes it took a phone call at 8 a.m. to wake a child up so that they would get online,” Brown said. “And sometimes it was working late at night because you knew the mother had been working all day.”

Brown’s help went beyond what you would normally call teacher’s hours.

“Because some children their moms would come home later and they would just facetime you to ask for help then,” Brown said. “People just were needing connection.”

Brown also made sure families had access to food, Whitmore-Sells said.

“She was able to deliver some meals to some families,” she said. “She was also able to connect as far as technology. So let’s say that someone had a device and it wasn’t working, or they didn’t have a cord, she would run it right over.” 

Whitmore-Sells said she’s learned a lot from Brown.

“I think one thing that is a takeaway is just do your diligence as far as extending and helping each other,” Whitmore-Sells said. 

Brown was there for every student, but some needed more attention.

“English learners really need a hand up,” Brown said. “They just needed someone that can connect them to a school. Maybe that is more important than the actual teaching, its the connection with the families.”

Brown wants people to know that all of the staff at Flynn Elementary School were there for their students.

“It really did take a village to make extraordinary things happen for children and their families,” Brown said. 

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