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SONIC Limeades for Learning September Teacher of the Month: Helping Students Build Community

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By Jessica Shock

September’s Limeades for Learning teacher spotlight is Cressandra Layne. She entered the education field as a teacher in 2012 and has since taught everything from Pre-K to sixth grade. Today, she educates Pre-K students in King and Queen County, Virginia. “I’ve learned it doesn’t matter whether students are four or ten, they all love to sing and dance. In my classroom, we start our morning building community together with songs then dive into hands-on learning.” As someone who learned early on the difference that just one teacher can make, Cressandra takes great care in her role as an educator. “We moved a lot when I was a child,” she says. “I never really made friends in school, but my teachers watched out for me and showed that they cared. I want to be that person for my students.”

As a Pre-K teacher, Cressandra welcomes anywhere from 15 to 20 four-year-olds into her classroom each school year. At that age, a structured learning environment is brand new to students, and a big part of Cressandra’s curriculum is to prepare them for life-long learning. “By the end of the year, their growth is always my proudest and most rewarding achievement.”

To create the best experience she can for her students, Cressandra posts projects on DonorsChoose to secure funding. It’s something she recommends other teachers do, too. “DonorsChoose connects organizations and community members who recognize the need for classroom essentials and want to help. Don’t be afraid to upload a project on DonorsChoose and ask for what you need: snacks to ease students’ hunger, basic project supplies, flexible seating, classroom carpets, tissues, Clorox wipes – whatever you need, nothing is too small.”

Cressandra has had four classroom projects funded through DonorsChoose. Her favorite, funded by the SONIC Foundation in 2020, was called ‘Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere.’ “It was my second year of teaching Pre-K and the year of COVID, so I needed several different math kits for hands-on learning that wouldn’t require students to share.” She got the idea from literacy kits, which the school had plenty of. For math, on the other hand, there was nothing comparable. “These fun, hands-on learning kits help my students learn math to this day. Now that we’re back in-person, my students enjoy them even more because they can work in small groups with their friends.”

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

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.