Meet Pete, the Caring and Cool Cat

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BY EARL YOUNG, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY NOV 25, 2020

When Toledo Blade Elementary School first grade teacher Brenda Anderson wanted to make a big impression on her students for a relatively little expenditure, she requested and was awarded a $249 classroom grant from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County to purchase “Pete the Cat” books and activities.

“Pete is a study in perseverance, a rebel against negative vibes,” Anderson said.

“The buttons on his shirt mysteriously pop off. He tumbles off his skateboard and cracks his favorite sunglasses. He steps in mounds of strawberries and mud. But he keeps his head up and looks on the bright side, and by doing that he always wins.”

And that simple message made Pete a sensation in Anderson’s classroom.

“Pete the cat helped my students become better readers and learn important life lessons,” said Anderson. Students also earned “Reading Counts” points toward trinkets and recognition at the school, which contributed to building self-esteem and a joy and pride in reading well.

Anderson’s first-grade class of 20 students included three special needs and six students designated as low performing. The lessons on character and resilience that Pete provided helped to increase participation and attentive behavior; and improve self-esteem, self-confidence, a sense of teamwork, cooperation, attitudes and mature emotional behavior.

“The kids actually would say, “What would Pete do?” when confronted with an upsetting situation, said Anderson.

Anderson noted that without donors for classroom grants, teachers would have to buy classroom projects like this with their own money or forego purchasing them.

  “After seeing how my students were so excited and inspired, I plan to do a ‘Pete the Cat’ themed classroom until I retire, and that’s thanks to the Education Foundation,” Anderson said.

EducateSRQ is the teacher and classroom grants signature program of The Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

Click here for more information.

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