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By starting a school food pantry, this special education teacher is meeting a need while empowering her students.
Susan Dodd Pantry

Meet Susan Dodd. With a master’s degree in special education for students with severe disabilities, Susan was the perfect candidate for developing and implementing a post-graduate program for young adults with special needs at Bartlett High in Webster. 

Often, special needs students can feel isolated. Like the teacher champion she is, Susan found a way to break this isolation by creating a variety of opportunities for her special needs students to help hungry kids in the Webster Public School District. 

Five mornings per week, the post-graduate students deliver snacks and drinks in several places throughout the high school. Every Thursday the students fill ten to twelve backpacks with food supplies for families in need. On Fridays, any student may take home a backpack and return the empty pack on Monday. Special bags are also packed on days before a holiday or school vacation and are sent home to any family wishing to have extra. When a student, employee, or anyone from the community is in need of food supplies, the post-graduate students and Susan make special deliveries. 

A few mornings each week, Susan's students arrive at Park Avenue Elementary to help pack silverware and other items for Breakfast in the Classroom, which serves approximately 700 breakfasts daily, along with packing items for the after school snack program. With the help of her students, Susan ensures that any excess items do not go to waste; extra supplies are used for the backpacks at Bartlett High, and vice versa. Susan's program has in fact inspired a special education teacher at Park Ave to start their own backpack program for students' families.

Susan has created a community based on taking care of one another’s needs. As she tells it, “my passion in life as a teacher has always been to teach my students, with their tremendous abilities, ways to become proud and productive young adults within their community.” We think Susan has succeeded beyond measure.

As one of Project Bread’s 2019 Teacher Champions, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts are happy to celebrate Susan and the eleven other recipients of the Teacher Champion Award! 

Learn more about our 2019/20 Initiative to address hunger in the classroom with our partners and the amazing work that Teacher Champions across Massachusetts are doing to address hunger in the classroom, helping students to reach their fullest potential. 

Filed under: Spotlights, Teacher Champions