Chalkboard Champion: Ms. Heather Camarda

February Chalkboard Champion

SARASOTA (WWSB) - ABC7 has teamed up with Gettel Automotive once again to honor another deserving teacher in our community. The first Chalkboard Champion for the month of February works at Kinnan Elementary School in Manatee County. Her name is Ms. Heather Camarda.

“Without her, I don’t know where we’d be,” mother Kristyn Landrum said.

Landrum’s son Kyle is autistic and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. School has never been easy for him.

“He struggled tremendously, up until we got... I’m going to cry... up until we got with her,” Landrum explained. “She’s just an amazing person. She believed in him.”

Ms. Camarda had Kyle in her class at Kinnan Elementary School for three years. Kyle’s mother credits Camarda for the tremendous progress her son has made.

“He started reading," Landrum explained. "I didn’t even know that that was possible. He went into middle school reading, learning to type, learning to write his name. Just a lot of things that doctors said he’d probably never be able to do.”

That’s why Ms. Camarda is a Chalkboard Champion.

“I’m truly shocked," Camarda said when presented the award. "I’m very just speechless. I loved her child as everyone in my own classroom. He is a great kid.”

Ms. Camarda has made tremendous impacts on dozens of students just like Kyle.

“They leave with just so much skill, just confidence," Landrum explained. "Kids like that need so much confidence. She builds them up to where they feel like they can conquer the world.”

Ms. Camarda’s boss feels the same way.

“She is very patient,” Kinnan Elementary School principal Paul Hockenbury said. “Every day is a new day. Every hour is a new hour. A student could have a difficult morning and by the afternoon they’re hugging and they’re working. She is very adapt at teaching the students the standard, but modifying it for each of them.”

When asked what her secret is, Ms. Camarda said, “Love goes a long way. Accepting where they are, who they are. Putting your best foot forward and being the best you can every day, and meeting them where they are.”

If you know of a deserving teacher in Manatee or Sarasota County who could be our next Chalkboard Champion, click here.

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