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More To The Story: the Pinta

More To The Story: the Pinta

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – After a three week stay, a replica of one of the most famous ships in American history left Ross’ Landing today.

And if you were looking for a history lesson from the 15th century, it was “right up your alley!”

News 12’s Dave Staley explains, in tonight’s edition of More To The Story.

There she be kids!! The Pinta! A replica of one of the three ships that Christopher Columbus used when he set sight on “The New World” in October of 1492. Historians consider it to be the “Space Shuttle” of that time period.
Built in 2005, it’s historically accurate. Almost. Actually upscaled some 20 percent. 15 feet longer on the deck. 6 feet wider on the beam.

“We did that to accomodate more people on board. And because, on average, we’re all bigger. The average 15th century man being only 5’2″ tall”

This replica is motorized on the rivers. But actually sails on the oceans and Great Lakes. Traveling the country as a “sailing museum.” Educating the public, Specifically young kids.

“It was great. Great experience. The tour guides were great. It’s great to see a little bit of history in Chattanooga.”

“One of the other replica boats, the Nina, which usually travles with the Pinta, is not on this tour. You see, the Nina was badly damaged a year ago during Hurricane Sally.”

There is no replica of Columbus’s third ship, the Santa Maria. There are no plans to build her. Here’s a big reason why:

“Columbus didn’t like her anyways. He actually nicknamed her the pig. He didn’t like her.”

Betcha didn’t know that. The next stop for the Pinta is Lenoir City, on the 24th. Dave Staley, News 12 Now.

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Weather Update: Monday Night’s Forecast – September 20th, 2021

Weather Update: Monday Night’s Forecast – September 20th, 2021

5day Temp Trend Am 2019

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): Wet Cycle Continues With Relief in Sight!

Very messy radar this Monday afternoon with Flash Flood Warnings in place for southern Hamilton and Marion counties until 7PM tonight. Rain looks to taper off tonight with only spotty showers. Winds are gusting 20-30mph in addition to low visibilities. Lows will drop to the upper 60’s.
More scattered showers starting Tuesday morning into the afternoon with highs near 80. Only isolated showers for the evening and night. Lows dropping to the upper 60’s.
Ahead of an anticipated cold front Wednesday, widespread showers and thundershowers are expected in the morning hours with an additional 1-2” possible. As that front sweeps off, much drier and much cooler for the late afternoon and evening with skies clearing and lows dropping to the upper 40’s to low 50’s.
This will bring us much drier and cooler air starting Wednesday night and lasting through the end of next week. Lots of sunshine on the way and it will feel great with highs in the low 70’s and lows 50-55. Some areas could see upper 40’s for Friday morning.
83 & 62 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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Ed Johnson memorial dedication

Ed Johnson memorial dedication

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – “He is finally walking away from that, symbolically walking away that tragedy,” said artist Jerome Meadows.

Ed Johnson and his two lawyers now have scriptures to be remembered for changing US history.

“The nature of the memorial itself, I decide to use down to connect it with the bridge. In terms of the story 1906 the Bridges I mean character found a lot of contemporaneous development going on so I felt it was important for the memorial to take us back if you will to 1906,” said Meadows.

Ed Johnson was the first African American given a stay of execution from the Supreme Court. Despite that, he was lynched by a white mob for a crime he didn’t commit, being hung from this bridge.

Meadows said he wants the memorial to spark discussion with each other, not at each other.

“We can agree to disagree but you need to be talking with each other rather than at each other,” said Meadows.

After the dedication, people walked across the bridge to remember a part of history. The dedication is something Meadows is still getting used to.

“And I was just awestruck by the fact that descendants we’re here. It makes it more personally real and that’s ultimately what the memorial is designed to live from now on within our personal realities,” said Meadows.

He said it’s was incredibly important to him to have Johnson surrounded by those who tried to save his life.

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Teacher grants terminally ill student her wish to meet Minnie Mouse

Teacher grants terminally ill student her wish to meet Minnie Mouse

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – Harmony Sain is seven years old and she’s going to Disney World. She’s also terminally ill and is a special needs student of Margaret Barclift.

“I would go to the house twice a week and go through some basic arithmetic and ABCs that kind of stuff and then I just grew to love her.”

Harmony has suffered through 28 surgeries on her head and neck due to her illness and her length of life could be very short and sudden.

Harmony has always had a dream of meeting Minnie Mouse but the cost has been too high. After Make-a-Wish foundation denied harmony’s doctors submission, Barclift started a go fund me, Happiness for Harmony.

Barclift raised enough money to pay for an all-expenses paid 6-day trip to Disney and Harmony’s dream of meeting Minnie will come true on September 27.

“The outrage the support, there are no words just I’m so happy and so pleased and so thankful that everybody is so willing to be so supportive of all of us.”

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RAM and Hope for the inner city get help people see

RAM and Hope for the inner city get help people see

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- “For a lot of them can I afford to go to an optometrist or do I eat? So I think about our community somethings are left out.”

Remote Area Medical in partnership with Hope For The Inner City set up a pop-up clinic in Chattanooga Saturday to provide free eye exams providing free vision care to those underserved and uninsured.

“It’s important that people take care of their eyes and I thought about kids for school. I mean if they can’t say they can’t read they can’t learn so being able to do a clinic like this it’s just amazing how we can serve our neighbors. Allowing them to see, learning and growing, it’s pretty amazing.”

He said the free clinic stopped at Hope for the Inner City because being able to see is a right, not a privilege and vision has a personal connection for him.

“Over a month ago I was blind in one eye. So vision has always been important to me. Doctors have been pretty persistent and ensuring and convinced me to go through a procedure and after 52 years I walked out being blind in my right eye and I can see 2050 vision.”

He said they started seeing patients at 6:00 am and people started early in the morning.

“I got here about 2:30 (A.M.) and there was 30 cars in the parking lot there were people on the line and I hear when are we starting, what do we need so you know instruction said to be given out but we’ve got everything figured out. We got them registered, we’re going to serve about 102 guests, 102 people in our community.”

RAM will be there again Sunday and at Camp Jordan on October 23rd and 24th.

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Weather Update: Saturday’s Forecast – September 18th, 2021

Weather Update: Saturday’s Forecast – September 18th, 2021

5day Temp Trend Am 2019

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): Wetter Times Are Ahead!

Lingering showers will continue through the nighttime. Wet, muggy, with areas of fog overnight. Lows only in the upper 60’s to around 70.
Cloudy and wet with showers likely for Sunday and Monday with highs staying in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 60’s to near 70.  A few scattered Mainly PM showers showers and storms Tuesday with highs around 80.
Looking ahead, a cold front will move through Wednesday bringing us much drier and cooler air Wednesday night through the end of next week. Lots of sunshine will feel great too!.
84 & 63 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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Standifer Gap ballfields still unusable after tornados

Standifer Gap ballfields still unusable after tornados

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – A year and a half ago, ball fields near Ootlewah were in great condition.

Now, they’re not much other than mounds of dirt.

“The money’s not there to be fixed. There was a plan for the cleanup after the tornado was done, but not a real plan for the after effect of when the cleanup was done,” says Ootlewah Youth Association President, Victor Steen.

The fields were used to hold equipment following the tornados that hit our area in April 2020.

That combination left them in bad shape.

Since then, it’s been a slow process to repair the fields and get them ready to play ball.

“Initially I was told hopefully by the end of September as of yesterday I reached out for another update and I’ve been told October. So I think everything’s in our purchasing department right now and it is moving forward and they’re supposed to have it finished so they can use them they understand that they need them,” adds District 7 Hamilton County Commissioner, Sabrena Smedley.

And with October being tossed around as a time for when the fields are set to be finished, Ootlewah Youth Association President Victor Steen says he’s not so sure that the fields will be done in time.

“I think they’re working on maybe a forty or fifty thousand dollar budget and the numbers I’ve been told by companies that do this for a living, that put these fields back and like they do is somewhere around 150 to 200 thousand,” says Steen.

He says he’s tired of waiting, and he wants the County to step up.

“The County Commissioners definitely need to be involved, the Mayor needs to get involved, and the appropriate funds need to be given to the parks and rec department for them to do what needs to be done and get the people in the community back their park.”

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Weather Update: Friday Afternoon’s Forecast – September 17th, 2021

Weather Update: Friday Afternoon’s Forecast – September 17th, 2021

5day Temp Trend Am 2019

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): Tropical Moisture Here For A While!

A few areas of patchy fog this Friday morning will clear out by the late morning. Temperatures starting off in the upper 60’s and low 70’s. Lots of clouds today along with isolated thundershowers will leave temperatures once again cooler but muggy near the low 80’s. Rain activity quiets down heading into tonight. Lows drop to the upper 60’s.

Mostly cloudy Saturday with scattered afternoon and evening rain and storms with highs near the upper 70’s to low 80’s.  Lows will drop near 70.
Scattered shows and storms are more likely for Sunday and Monday.
Looking ahead, models are hinting at a fall cold front next Wednesday that could leave us with much drier and cooler air starting Thursday.
84 & 64 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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Catoosa County man convicted of molesting family member

Catoosa County man convicted of molesting family member

RINGGOLD, Georgia (WDEF) – A jury convicted 37 year old Jonathan William Miller this week of molesting a family member.

Prosecutors say he sexually molested a 12 year old girl in Tennessee for years and the molestation continued when the family moved to Georgia in 2019.

They say Miller told her to lie about it if anyone questioned her.

But the victim finally disclosed the abuse when she was out of the house and in foster care.

She first told her foster sister, who convinced her to tell the Children’s Advocacy Center.

The case went to trial in Catoosa County this week.

The jury found Miller guilty after just 10 minutes of deliberation.

He had a prior child molestation conviction in 2003.

Miller was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ten more on probation.

Prosecutor Chris Arnt says the Lookout Mountain Circuit gets  some of the toughest sentences for sexual abuse in all of Georgia.

“While many voices in our country are calling to empty our prisons and complaining about over incarceration, I believe anyone who targets children like this should be behind bars. We will not tolerate the sexual abuse of our children.”

His office credits the “loving and diligent” foster family for making the case.

They included an email to his office from the victim’s guardian after the verdict:

“This may have been one of the hardest things our family has ever had to do.  However, I am eternally grateful for the employees and service of the Catoosa County District Attorney’s office. We are happy with the outcome and grateful that our justice system and the jurors found and served justice for our foster daughter. Thank you Mr. David Wolfe for an excellent job in court, Judge Brian House for sentencing and bringing a small little window of hope to this little girl, to Mr. Arnt and all the district attorneys who came to offer support and lastly to Mrs. Ashley Nicholson, Catoosa County DA child advocate for walking us through every step of this process and defining some of those big lawyer words that no one can possibly understand. Thank you all for finding justice for [**]! 

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Health Dept. reports Covid fatalities are getting younger

Health Dept. reports Covid fatalities are getting younger

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The Hamilton County Health Department is putting a number on the younger fatality rate we are seeing now from Covid-19.

Back in the winter surge, we saw that only 4% of the deaths were under 50 years old.

But over the Delta variant surge of the last 3 months, 22% of deaths have been under 50.

“We extend our sympathy to all of our community members who have lost a loved one to COVID-19,” says Health Department Interim Administrator Sabrina Novak. “A greater number of young people are being hospitalized and dying compared to last year. We strongly recommend that anyone eligible get vaccinated to protect themselves from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.”

Visit vaccine.hamiltontn.gov or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 423-209-8383 to find a vaccination event near you.

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Third suspect charged with Sexual Battery at immigrant facility

Third suspect charged with Sexual Battery at immigrant facility

Rebeka Perez

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Chattanooga Police have charged a third woman, employed at an immigrant facility on Vance Avenue, with Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure.

22 year old Rebeka Perez is now being held at Silverdale.

Two other women were charged earlier.

Police say the victim is a 16 year old boy, but not if he is the same victim in one of the other cases.

The Department of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security is also investigating.

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Natural Immunity from Covid-19 Vs. Vaccine Immunity

Natural Immunity from Covid-19 Vs. Vaccine Immunity

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – If you contract the Covid-19 virus does your natural immunity serve as a replacement for the vaccine? The answer is no and health officials say relying on natural infection is like playing a game of Russian roulette. 

Health care experts explain that immunity from natural infection is lasting longer than they first estimated, but the amount of actual protection can vary, leaving some people vulnerable to reinfection

“We do know that if you have had a natural infection and you do not get vaccinated then you are about 2 ½ times more likely to be reinfected with Covid than if you have had a previous infection and are vaccinated,” says Dr. Anna Durbin, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Doctors say depending on one’s natural immunity after an infection is a risky business, especially when the outcomes are so unclear.

 “You don’t know upfront if you are going to do well or not. Clearly, if you have escaped the disease, chancing it is a big gamble.  If you know that you are going to have a mild infection that’s ok but nobody knows that upfront. There’s no way of predicting that. We don’t have a good test to tell you if your natural immunity has lessened,” says Dr. Carlos Baleeiro, Pulmonologist at CHI Memorial.

“What vaccination does is provide very good immunity without the severe illness that natural infection does,” says Dr. Durbin. 

In fact, doctors say that if you’ve had the virus, recovered, and then received the vaccine, the results are an extremely strong immunity.  So when should someone who’s recovered from the virus get vaccinated? 

 “The recommendation from the CDC has been 10 to 90 days. So essentially after you come out of your isolation period you become eligible to get the vaccine and certainly you would want to get it by three months after you had a natural infection to make sure you are not having waning natural immunity. My advice is if you have been previously infected, you are likely to benefit from getting the vaccine and there really is no downside to doing so,” says Dr. Jay Sizemore, Erlanger Infectious Disease.

Health experts want to remind you that even though the pandemic seems to be old news, doctors are continuously learning more and more about how the virus works and keeping you up to date about protecting yourself –  and your loved ones.


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Rossville man charged with vandalism at Ridgeland High

Rossville man charged with vandalism at Ridgeland High

Andrew Brown

ROSSVILLE, Georgia (WDEF) – The Walker County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspect for vandalism this summer at Ridgeland High School.

On June 14, someone broke windows and spray painted fixtures at the school.

The damage added up to more than $1,700 in repairs.

Investigators have charged Andrew Daniel Brown with Criminal Damage to Property, 1st Degree. 

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Warning: Bradley County Covid-19 Scam Alert

Warning: Bradley County Covid-19 Scam Alert

Courtesy: MGN

CLEVELAND, Tennessee (WDEF) – Bradley County authorities warn about a scam in their community involving fake health department employees.

The scammers go door to door and present false identification that they work for the health department.

They say they need to ask you questions about Covid-19.

But their health questions are detailed and include your social security numbers.

The Mayor’s Office says that’s not how the health department operates.

They only contact you in case of contact tracing and never visit your home.

They will only contact your by phone and will never ask for your social security number.

The County Mayor’s Office say police are investigating the cases.

But their best advice is if you get suspicious, just don’t give out sensitive information whether over the phone or in person.

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Healthy Chattanooga Coalition

Healthy Chattanooga Coalition

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – ​​The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the city of Chattanooga and member businesses, announced today the launch of the Healthy Chattanooga Coalition.

The Healthy Chattanooga Coalition is a group of employers working together to provide strong incentives for vaccine use among workers and to increase vaccination rates across the city.

The goal is to see a minimum of 60% vaccination rate in Chattanooga and Hamilton County by Dec. 1.

The Coalition will work within three tiers of choice to encourage employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19

“It’s a voluntary sign-on for businesses that are doing one of three things. They are either encouraging their employees to get vaccinated. Their 2 is that they have some sort of an active incentive for them to do it and third is that they have mandated it for their employees,” says Justin Groenert, VP of Public Policy.

As new guidance on vaccinations continues to develop from federal, state, and local officials, the Chattanooga Chamber will serve as an educational resource for local businesses.

To learn more about the coalition and to sign up, visit https://www.chattanoogachamber.com/hcc


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Flu Season and Covid-19 Boosters – trying to avoid a “Twin-Demic”

Flu Season and Covid-19 Boosters – trying to avoid a “Twin-Demic”

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – With flu season right around the corner and the delta surge in full swing, many people are wondering about the possibility of a “twin-demic’ and if a Covid booster shot will be necessary?

Experts with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health explain. 

Within an average year, the flu causes 30-60 thousand deaths, 300 to 600 thousand hospitalizations, and as many as 15 million trips to the doctor- but last year was an exception. 

The numbers were at an all-time low probably as a result of better hygiene-  but NOW with nearly 130-thousand new daily coronavirus cases in the US, and more than 100-thousand people in the hospital, the concern is that health care systems won’t be able to accommodate the load.

“The big risk here is that our healthcare system has limited capacity and in the winter it usually hits that capacity and replaces absent covid. Flu is often a big contributor. If we see covid hitting capacity in our healthcare systems the dual whammy could be a lot,” says Dr. Dan Salmon, Institute for Vaccine Safety, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The CDC is recommending that people get a COVID-19 booster 8 months after their second shot. For many people that’s going to fall right in the middle of flu season- so is getting both vaccines a good idea? 

“The flu virus changes so much every year and the vaccines that we have are far less potent than the vaccine we have against covid. Those are the two factors that are requiring yearly vaccinations. I think we will require boosters, or more than just our primary series of vaccinations against Covid if we are unable to control this pandemic,” says Dr. Anna Durbin, Center for Immunization Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

“We have really good vaccines for covid. We have reasonably good vaccines for the flu. We should use them both as widely as possible and hope we don’t see co-pandemics that make things worse,” says Dr. Salmon.

 For information on how to schedule your vaccine or upcoming flu shot, click here

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Can you identify Walker car burglars from surveillance video?

Can you identify Walker car burglars from surveillance video?

Break In Video
Walker Co. Sheriff

ROSSVILLE, Georgia (WDEF) – Walker county Sheriff Steve Wilson is warning residents about car thefts and burglaries after a recent incident on Saturday.


Surveillence video shows two, possibly three suspects entering several vehicles and stealing two vehicles in the Mission Glen Subdivision of Rossville, Georgia.


Sheriff Wilson says these types of crimes typically happen when people forget to lock their vehicles at night.


“We have found that 95 percent of the time if your automobile is locked that those suspects will just bypass the automobile and go onto the next one that is unlocked.”


If you have any information about this incident, contact Walker County Detective Jeremy Reece 706-638-1909 ext 1240 or email jreece@walkerso.com

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Greg Vital wins race to replace Mike Carter in Tennessee legislature

Greg Vital wins race to replace Mike Carter in Tennessee legislature

Vital Vs Jelks

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Republican Greg Vital easily won Tuesday’s special election for the District 29 seat in the Tennessee House.


The district represents communities in northern Hamilton County including Birchwood and Ooltewah.


The former Commissioner in Collegedale has been active in the Hamilton County Republican party and run for a state senate seat before.


But he will go to Nashville replacing Mike Carter, who died in May.


Vital has made a larger mark in the local business community.


He worked as an executive at Life Care Centers of America and McKee Baking.


But for the last 24 years, he has run Morning Pointe Assisted Living And Alzheimer’s Memory Care.


Vote for 1Votes
Greg Vital
DeAngelo L. Jelks


Vital defeats DeAngelo Jelks, who has been dealing with accusations of an affair at best and rape charges at worst.


Police are investigating the rape allegations.


He resigned as co-chair of the county Democratic party over the weekend.


But Jelks says the relationship was consensual, just exploited by a fellow Democrat.


“As far as the elephant in the room, I know that I have let down my supporters, family and friends by having a consensual yet inappropriate relationship. This matter was personal and private between two consenting adults, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.

To be clear, I have done nothing illegal.”

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Burger King hoping to hire 150 local workers today

Burger King hoping to hire 150 local workers today

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Chattanooga area Burger King franchises are open for more than just customers on Tuesday.


Hometown Hospitality, which is a Burger King franchisee, is holding a job fair with the goal of hiring 150 workers today in our area.


That’s 110 crew members and 40 managers.


No appointment is necessary and they are prepared to hire you on the spot.


You can also apply online at careers.bk.com and interviews may be conducted via video chat or phone.


“We invite the community to stop by our restaurants in the Chattanooga area and learn more about Hometown Hospitality’s career advancement opportunities,” said GPS Hospitality’s Vice President of Operations Carmen Gianguzzo. “We are looking for hourly crew members and managers to join our teams immediately. If you want a job with flexible hours, bonuses, training and growth potential – we are here to meet with you.”


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Golden Apple Award:  LeNet Solomon-Parker, Montessori School

Golden Apple Award: LeNet Solomon-Parker, Montessori School

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) – Imagine spending a half a century in the classroom.  That the’s reality for LeNet Solomon-Parker. She’s spent 50 years creating a loving and caring atmosphere for her students. We recently caught up with this dedicated educator at the Montessori School in Chattanooga.

Allison Driver is the Head of School.

She says, “Ms. Parker is so dedicated. The fact that she has been at the Montessori school since inception speaks volumes. The kids absolutely love her. She builds a positive rapport with the parents, the students and the staff members.”

LeNet lays out her life sequentially, “LeNet Solomon-Parker, start it in Dalton Georgia, went to the university of Miami and graduated. Came back here and taught at Chattanooga State then I’m here for the last 30 years. Believe it or not when I was a child, when I was a teenager I really stay away from children I didn’t even maybe sit. But then I was with one of my neighbors and she had put her grandson over and it was just amazing. It was just amazing how you can feel the love how are you can feel what they are feeling.”

LeNet goes on to describe her students, “They are wonderful and they inspire me every day. Is it safe to say that these children keep you young. I’m 72 what do you think?. Yeah that’s why I keep going.”

Allison adds, “She has been doing this for over 50 years and she has been at the Montessori school for over 30. So like I say it to be that passionate and to come every day on time ready to work and ready to be engaged with the students is what any head of school would ask for.”

LeNet concludes, “What I want for my children, all of them and I’ve seen it happen over all this years is to be independent, happy and just do what they want to do and see what they want to say. And make them very confident.”



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