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Education Is A Family Affair At One Elementary School In D.C.

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Juanita Stokes reads to her Pre-K class at Payne Elementary School in Southeast D.C.
Kavitha Cardoza
Juanita Stokes reads to her Pre-K class at Payne Elementary School in Southeast D.C.

By Kavitha Cardoza

Thousands of teachers are being honored this week as part of National Teacher Appreciation Week. At one classroom in D.C., education is a family affair.

Juanita Stokes, sings with her Pre-K class at Payne Elementary School in Southeast. Stokes has been teaching for 25 years. One of her students is 3-year-old Naima Dixon.

"My teacher kind. I sing songs, read stories and go to library," says Naima.

Stokes also taught Naima's mother Argentine Dixon, who still considers Stokes her "second mom".

"She used to act like we were going camping. She used to bring a tent and have us use our imagination a lot and that's what I loved about her," says Dixon.

And Naima's grandmother, Aurelia Dixon is a longtime teacher's aide in the class. And says she's learned a lot from Stokes.

"She can look at a lesson plan and say 'I don't think this will catch the children's attention. So she would act it out, move around, play little games. She's so creative!," exclaims grandmother Dixon.

Stokes says she loves the expressions on children's faces as they learn.

"They come in with just a couple of sentences, then they're talking more, reading little books, writing. You can see 'wow, look what I did.'," says Stokes.

While Stokes says she's sometimes thinking about retiring but can't imagine actually doing it. And that's perfectly fine with the Dixon family.


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