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School Literary Assistant Makes Reading Her Mission

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Amanda Velarde says in her classroom in the Jordan School District, there is no such thing as “can’t.”

“I’ve put a stop to them saying ‘I can’t’ do something.”

Here, it is I can and I will.

“If we could just clone, like, 10 Ms. Amandas and have all of our kids be with Ms. Amanda, all of our kids would make tremendous improvement,” says Abbey Knight, a second-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School.

Ms. Amanda, as she’s known around the school, is invested.

“I see her heart every day with these kids,” says Title I instructional coach Angie Drope. “She’s always so excited to see them and makes them feel so loved.”

We thought we would turn some of that love around and give back to Ms. Amanda.

But as we often find in these kinds of stories, the people who give so much expect so little in return — and are surprised at the attention.

“I can’t see her doing anything else. I don’t think she’d want to do anything else in her life. She is meant to be around kids,” says Columbia Elementary Principal Abram Yospe.

“I always say if Ms. Amanda can’t make an improvement with them, nobody’s going to be able to make improvements with these kids,” says Ms. Abbey.

Ms. Amanda says she loves it so much because of her students.

“They light up my life. Every day. When they finally get something, it’s just amazing.”

Early education all comes down to reading — with a little dose of love.

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