Classroom Champions: MBHS teacher helps feed students, keep roofs over their heads

Classroom Champion: MBHS teacher helps feed students, keep roofs over their heads

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - As a way to honor and thank all of the teachers during Teacher Appreciation Month, Classroom Champions highlights special efforts local teachers are doing.

Patricia Sylvester was nominated as a Classroom Champion by her colleague and friend, Natalie Hunnell.

“I mean she goes above and beyond the call of duty," explained Hunnell.

Sylvester is an Occupational Preparation teacher at Myrtle Beach High School and works with six special education seniors.

When asked why she became a teacher and when she knew it was her calling.

“You’re going to make me cry. My mom always raised us to be mindful of what other people don’t have and I was always raised to believe that when I leave this world that my legacy should be what I did for other people, not what they did for me," she explained.

So, her lifelong mission was born.

“Some days I feel almost like a superhero like I wear many hats during the day," Sylvester added.

A 'heroic’ teacher during an uncertain time due to the coronavirus. Sylvester explained as schools shut down, eLearning began and duties shifted. She said it never felt like a burden.

“The first thing I thought of was the kids and how we were going to get their work to them, because most don’t have internet access, so I started putting together packets that week, just in case we were out of school," Sylvester said.

The need became more than that though.

“Then when Horry County schools had to shut down the food program because workers were sick, parents were on social media and panicked, because they didn’t know where they would find the food to feed children. So I posted on Facebook and a lot of the area and local restaurants stepped in. Local residents stepped in and we all said let’s pick a day on the calendar," Sylvester explained.

During the two week period, Sylvester said with everyone’s efforts, more than 700 students were fed in the Socastee and Myrtle Beach area.

“It’s not just making sure the kids are fed, she scouts places for them to work and makes sure they have their work hours, so they have their diploma and what she does at the end of the year with their program and makes sure their program has the special light and attention for them,” Hunnell said.

Going above and beyond again when city restrictions were put in place, Hunnell said Sylvester reached out to Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune for help.

“When the city said they couldn’t have the short-term housing, and so much of our population is transient and our children are living in those hotels, she expressed her concern with that. Mayor Bethune listened to her and allowed those students to go into those hotels where they were living because they were in there cars when hotels shut down. She requested that on her own and that just goes to show the love and compassion she has for her kids,” Hunnell said.

It’s all part of Sylvester’s many hats she wears to reach her students in any way she can.

“I know I can’t reach all realistically, even though that’s what I want to do. If I know I reach one family, or one child, I sleep well at night. Because that’s one child that got fed that day, one child that learned something new that day, one child that knows somebody out there that loves and appreciates them," Sylvester said.

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