"Every year, Mrs. Berry saw another little child who reminded her of Brenda and their adventure. Mrs. Berry would smile and say, 'Thank you Brenda.'"

Mrs. Berry is a first grade teacher. She has a bright student named Brenda who has a challenging home life. She frequently comes to school with a stomachache (due to not eating breakfast), dirty hair, and unwashed and wrinkled clothes. Brenda's classmates do not treat her well.

Brenda's parents do not attend PTA or parent meetings, so Mrs. Berry visits her home. The home visit reveals that Brenda's mom works long hours to care for their children and has difficulty completing some aspects of caregiving for her three children. With the permission of Brenda's mom, Mrs. Berry takes on the responsibility of being Brenda's "second mom" and helps her with personal hygiene and care including tooth brushing, bathing, and clean clothes. She also teaches the other kids to improve their attitude and kindness toward their fellow classmates. Brenda makes new friends and successfully moves onto second grade. Brenda relocates towns to be with her grandparents and keeps in touch with Mrs. Berry. In subsequent years, Mrs. Berry teaches children who have similar challenges at home, so her experience with Brenda prepares her to be a second caregiver for these children.

Throughout this story of a "latchkey" child with a challenging home life, Jordan portrays a generous teacher with a heart for helping her students and a student who works hard to thrive in the first grade despite multiple obstacles. This heartwarming book reveals that the actions of one concerned and caring teacher has a lasting positive effect on a child, a parent, and a community. The last lines of the story demonstrate that the lessons learned from teaching a student like Brenda influenced many children for years to come.

Return to USR Home