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SONIC Limeades for Learning June Teacher of the Month: Making a Lifelong Impact

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By Blayre Riley

SONIC’s Limeades for Learning initiative makes a difference in public schools across the country through the brand’s partnership with nonprofit DonorsChoose, for which the SONIC Foundation provides funding throughout the year in support of public-school teachers and the great projects they’re creating in the classroom. To share their innovative approaches to education, we’re spotlighting an educator each month to show the different ways they’re enriching their schools and communities.

Amber Stratton is a seventh and eighth-grade math teacher who has been teaching for nearly 20 years in Vestaburg, Michigan. For Amber, her inspiration to teach stems directly from her own fifth-grade teacher. “Mrs. Longstreth helped me believe in myself and taught me I could do anything I set my mind to,” says Amber. This lasting impact has been Amber’s driving force since she first started teaching.

Being an educator is incredibly important to Amber, but she says creating lifelong connections and relationships is her priority as a teacher, striving to make those connections last. “I’m invited to weddings and baby showers,” she says. “Students still come to visit my classroom.” It’s these relationships that make Amber’s everyday teaching experience worth it, stating, “It makes more of a difference than my curriculum.” By prioritizing one-on-one time with her students, Amber has created a way to understand how they are doing, both in the classroom and beyond.

To do this, one thing that Amber prioritizes in her classroom is Social Emotional Learning. Teaching in a rural district can create additional struggles for children and requires extra hands-on work for educators. DonorsChoose has given Amber the ability to go the extra mile for her students and their families. “Growing up in a home that had a lot of stressors myself, I know the negative impact it can have on a child. The best advice I can give to other educators is to be flexible,” says Amber. “We’re teaching students skills that aren’t always being taught at home. That’s why my favorite DonorsChoose project has been receiving funding to purchase materials to create a calming area for my students.”

Basic classroom supplies like pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and books are what Amber believes are some of the biggest needs for teachers. She suggests sharing those needs on platforms like DonorsChoose to ask for community support. “I know this impact,” she says. “Go with the flow and do your best to adjust to the needs of your students and the larger classroom.”

Are you a teacher interested in securing funding through DonorsChoose? Visit To learn more about SONIC’s Limeades for Learning, visit

This story is part of an ongoing series.