Willow Bend K-5 Interventionalist, Brenda Montoya, created Edna almost 18 years ago when she taught the Character Counts program at Westwind Elementary. She said her original idea behind Edna was to reinforce the six pillars of character that students were learning through their character education program.

Montoya said that when she moved over to Willow Bend the character education program had changed a bit, but she wanted to keep Edna around to continue teaching students about character, feelings and emotions, work-ethic, and self-control.

Teachers and staff around Willow Bend describe Edna as a Willow Bend family member,  “a sweet old lady who gives life lessons that every child can benefit from, no matter how young or how old they are,” and “someone the kids can laugh and cry with, while learning about how to navigate life.”

Montoya said she makes it her goal to get to know the students at Willow Bend so that she is able to tailor the weekly Edna lessons to their needs.

“Edna gives life lessons about anything under the sun,” Montoya said. “We have talked a lot about fear this year because of the pandemic. Edna talked about how it is okay to be afraid, but that we shouldn’t keep it locked inside.”

Montoya said that in each Edna lesson she incorporates the phrase “if you need help, find a trusted adult.”

“As we all know, teaching isn’t just about ABCs and 123s,” Montoya said. “It is about teaching social skills, and how to deal with our feelings. Edna is teaching the kids how to think and use their words to express themselves. I did a lesson last week about “guard rails,” and talked about how we see guard rails on the road, but you have to have a set of “guard rails” that you carry with you all the time so that situations and things don’t steer us off of our path.”

Montoya said that she loves to stay in tune with the students through Edna. She said she can see it working throughout the building.

“I’ve had teachers from all over the building come to me and say, ‘I had a kid come to me today because they knew that Edna told them to find a trusted adult,’ and that is my goal,” Montoya said.

With tears in her eyes Montoya explained that she wants Edna to feel like a grandma to everyone.

“I know that some students don’t have that safe place to go home to, and I want them to be able to come here and say, ‘I can find someone who cares.’”