Meadowview Elementary students have had reason to celebrate this year. Not only was their school given 10 iPads to use in classrooms, but also $20,000 by local benefactor Denise Bankston, who began A-Kids’-Choice Foundation. In appreciation for adopting her school, principal Dr. Shelly Barrett hosted “A-Kids’-Choice Celebration,” honoring Mrs. Bankston and her family.

As each class filed into the gymnasium, a student presented Bankston with a flower. Others came bearing cards and hugs. And once seated and on cue, the entire student body held up signs saying “We thank you, Mrs. Dee Dee.”

“The investments Mr. and Mrs. Bankston have made in Bossier Schools go far beyond Meadowview Elementary,” Bossier School Superintendent D.C. Machen told the audience. “They see the importance in investing in students but educators as well.”

Last summer, A-Kids’-Choice Foundation sent several Bossier Parish educators to the Landmark School in Boston, Massachusetts, for a week — all expenses paid — to learn how to better teach children with dyslexia and other language-based difficulties.

Landmark is near and dear to Bankston’s heart. Years ago when her son, J.T., was about to start high school she went on a journey to help him with his dyslexia. That’s how Bankston discovered Landmark, a world-renowned high school that specializes in  teaching children with language-based learning disabilities. She has now made it her mission — and the focus of A-Kids’-Choice Foundation — to help other children with similar struggles and offer professional development to teachers.

At the assembly, Bankston had another surprise up her sleeve. She announced her foundation was sending eight more teachers to Landmark this summer — all from Meadowview. Rachel Schillage, Shawn Fields, Stacy Croft, Debbie Vanderpool, MichaelAnne Behrens, Julie Templin, Leslie Hadwin and Kelli Haltom will be packing their bags and heading to Boston this summer.

And if that wasn’t surprise enough, Bankston and her family handed out more than 600 necklaces with an inspirational message — one to each student and faculty member — and explained that each necklace was symbolic of 25 cups of food that will be provided to hungry children living in America.

Dr. Barrett is still floating on cloud nine since Bankston chose to focus her time, energy and money on Meadowview this school year. The signs her students made say it best. “We love you, Mrs. Dee Dee!”

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