By Kim Johnson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a teacher’s job to give their students the tools they’ll need to succeed in life.

But, as we know, many teachers give so much more than that.

Sasha Odermann-Karr at St. Paul Music Academy is one of those teachers. Odermann-Karr makes sure her students are ready to learn by first making sure they have the basic necessities, like a coat, shoes and school supplies.

She does it out of her own pocket and it is what makes her an Excellent Educator.

For 19 years Odermann-Karr has taught English to students who sometimes come to her not knowing a word.

“They’re just fascinating. It’s kind of like a brain puzzle,” she said.

She became fluent in Spanish by majoring in the language in college. Through her experience, she is able to sympathize with her students who are learning so much all at once.

“We have a lot of kids who are very new to school and to the English language, and so their parents can’t really help them at home. But they’re so brave. They just get on the bus and come to school and learn everything in English. They’re amazing,” she said.

Some of her students face even more challenges at home, but Odermann-Karr steps in to help.

“Usually I’ll ask them privately, ‘I noticed that your shoes are wearing out,’ or ‘You’re not wearing a sweatshirt today and it’s cold. Do you have one at home that you can wear?’ And if they say no, then I ask ‘Do you want me to get you one?’ Usually they’ll say ‘Yes,'” she said.

She is a teacher with a big heart that’s making an even bigger difference in her students’ lives.

“I do it because I can and I want to,” Odermann-Karr said. “I think if they are missing something, a basic need, it’s going to make it hard for them to focus on school and learning.”

Throughout her years as a teacher Odermann-Karr has continued her relationships with her formers students and their families. She has gone to birthday celebrations, holidays and baby showers over the years.

She said it’s great honor and joy to continue to be a part of their lives.


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