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Houston teacher finds cute way to be with her students, in spirit

"It’s not curriculum, it’s connection," said Janine Cagney. "It’s what the kids are craving right now. It’s what the teachers are craving."

HOUSTON — We are Standing for Houston by celebrating the heroes who live Nextdoor. Teachers like Jennifer Martinez are going the extra mile. The Pearland educator just surprised her first-grade students with gifts to help with the new learning process.

A special shout out to Kimberly W. for sharing the story with us on Nextdoor.

That's where we also learned about a Kindergarten teacher in north Houston. She's using a craft project to connect with her class.

It works for her and might be a good idea for families who aren't yet or can't yet celebrate together, just yet.

Who remembers Flat Stanley? The book, Flat Stanley, was first published in 1964. It's about a man, Stanley, who is flattened. He makes the most out of his situation with adventure.

Cut to 2020 and we now have a flat Mrs. Cagney.

The Banff School teacher is inspiring 5-year-old explorers like Lorelai Sun. She received a flattened version of her kindergarten teacher in the mail.

Little Lorelai has taken Flat Mrs. Cagney on bike rides. The paper cut-out has listened as the 5-year-old reads Harry Potter.

Her mom says the addition to the family is a game-changer.

"She is an only child, so this is really important for her. It’s just mom and dad and her. So, she doesn’t really interact with anyone," said mother Kim-Ling Sun.

"It’s not curriculum, it’s connection," said Janine Cagney. "It’s what the kids are craving right now. It’s what the teachers are craving."

The idea's been passed around. Cagney says she saw it on social media when another teacher posted the idea.

But Sun says the impact is so personal. "She (Lorelai) always talks about the virus and how the virus is preventing us from seeing our friends and the virus is preventing us from going to school. But that extra heart makes her know that it’s going to be OK."

Can't be there in person? OK. Here's a way to join the party, in spirit. 

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This story was pitched to KHOU 11 Reporter Melissa Correa on Nextdoor. To connect with Melissa on Nextdoor, click here.