skip to main content
article photo


SONIC Limeades for Learning February Teacher of the Month: Embracing Change Through Uncertainty

Reporters are welcome to use Inspire Stories material. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Teachers across the world have struggled with changes and obstacles in the learning environment over the past two years. Now, Teacher of the Month Laurie Batdorf reflects on the importance of teachers giving themselves grace as they adapt to new ways of connecting with students.

  • Name: Laurie Batdorf
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Subject: Band
  • Grade Level: 6-8
  • Years Teaching: 19

What is your classroom environment like this school year? 

This year, we were able to return to in-person learning, which, as you can imagine, is a much easier way to teach students to play instruments. 

How can community members and programs like Limeades for Learning best support teachers now, and why is it important to you? 

Like everyone else, teachers are overwhelmed. We desperately want to do what is best for students and it has never been more challenging to do so. Encouraging words and actions are very much appreciated by school staff.  Something that seems so simple can have a big impact and let teachers know that you’re invested in, and value, what we do.

What advice do you have for fellow educators during this time? 

Give yourself grace.  If something doesn’t work, that’s ok.  The past few years have changed a lot of things and it’s ok to adapt and do what works best for you and your students now. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

I get to watch students make music every day!  I really enjoy watching the creative process and seeing what my students can do. 

Who or what inspired you to become a teacher?

When I was in middle school, I joined a community music program for students across Columbus.  Instantly, I felt like I found my purpose and I wanted to do what I could to make that possible for others.

What is your favorite project that has received funding from SONIC Drive-In, and why? 

This is a tough question because every project and every donation has done something to make my students’ experience better.  But if I had to pick, I would say it was “First Aid for Families.”  This project gave us items to create first aid kits to give to our families during our Wellness Nights.  Unknowingly, we received funding for this not long before Covid shut things down.  It was a relief to know that families had access to thermometers and other needed supplies.

What tips do you have for fellow educators who want to get started with DonorsChoose and Limeades for Learning? 

Keep your project cost low, have a colorful or interesting school picture, and speak to why what you’re requesting will make a difference for your students.  I’ve been amazed at how many people want to help; they just don’t always know how.  Giving a true snapshot of your classroom, your students, and the items that you need will allow donors to feel like they are a part of your classroom.