BOAZ, Ala. — Colored pencils, books, and love are three things you can find in the classroom of Mrs. Natalie Reaves at Boaz Elementary. She has been a teacher there for the past 22 years.
"I bring them in and hug them up and love them, and just let them know that I love them from the first minute I get them and I love them until they leave," says Mrs. Reaves.
Mrs. Reaves comes from a family of teachers and she has now she has created a new family - a classroom family.
"I kind of am their mom at school," Mrs. Reaves says of her students.
Mrs. Reaves is able to build those strong relationships with her first graders because she truly gets to know them.
"Not only how they learn, but where they are coming from, what emotional needs they may have, what drives them and pushes them to be the very best they can be," explains Mrs. Reaves.
She is known for putting in the extra effort to reach and help every single child, especially the ones who could use a helping hand.
"They need that love, they need that attention," she says. "Kids who are not getting help at home need to know that somebody is interested in their future and that somebody believes in them and what they can be."
Mrs. Reaves says kids learn best when they are engaged, so she keeps class fun and does activities like making book covers and coming up with inventions.
"They all try to think of something that would help their family and invent something that can actually be a help to their family, and to watch them do that is really, really fun," she says.
But in first grade, reading is where Mrs. Reaves really gets to watch her kids grow throughout the year.
"To see those lightbulbs come on of learning and to see them realize that they are a reader, is incredible," smiles Mrs. Reaves.
But even more than learning words and numbers, she wants her kids to remember that she is there to care for them, always.
"No matter what is going on, good days, bad days, whatever, we all have bumps in the road, I just love them no matter what."
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