Azel Prather, Jr. is already well-known for going the extra mile for his students.
The Washington, D.C. teacher always makes himself available to the 3-5-year-olds he teaches, and not just during school hours. Recognizing that many of his students come from homes with busy, working parents, Azel makes it his business to attend their sporting events, concerts, or even just hang out on a Saturday to play games.
Beyond giving his time, Azel helps the kids financially as well. Even though his car is in the shop and needs repairs, Azel used $7,000 of his own money to start a nonprofit organization to help his students. According to their website, the Prather Foundation “enriches the lives of youth from low-income backgrounds through educational, athletic, and social programs. The foundation focuses on fostering the next generation of leaders through positivity, resources, and accessibility.”
Last Christmas Azel raised money through his foundation to give out Christmas gifts to his students at the KIPP DC Arts and Technology Academy. Hoping just to get enough money to give gifts to his 26 pre-K and kindergarten students, Azel instead managed to raise enough money to buy gifts for every student in the school. That’s 340 toys for needy kids!
And just before Christmas, Azel arranged another special treat for his kids. The Prather Foundation partnered with local beauticians, barbers, and nail technicians, all of whom volunteered their services, to give the kids a day of self-care for free!
Kids were able to get hair cuts, braids, nails, and other beauty treatments. They were also sent home with a new comb and other products to maintain their look on their own. These sweet munchkins looked and felt like a million bucks!
“It’s our Christmas hookup,” Azel explained. “We’re giving out manicures, they’re getting their hair done. It’s just our way of bringing resources into the community.”
Azel says that many of the kids in his class come from communities with few resources. Understanding the importance of taking care of your appearance, Azel aimed to give the kids a big confidence boost leading into the holidays. “If you look good you feel good, if you feel good you look good,” Prather said. “They’re going to go into Christmas feeling good about themselves.”
“I just look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces,” Azel said. “We know what goes on. Sometimes the parents may be working a lot of jobs and they don’t have the time to do it.”
Azel really goes the extra mile and never asks for praise or recognition. After hearing about his foundation, the Christmas gifts, and the day of pampering, Ellen DeGeneres asked the teacher to come on her show. As is her custom, Ellen couldn’t wait to shower Azel with gifts to help him continue his mission to make kids smile.
First, she gave him a brand-new Hyundai Sonata, and then she presented the Prather Foundation with a check for $20,000!
The world needs more teachers like Azel! He’s so much more than just a teacher; he’s a mentor and special friend to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We’re so glad he’s being recognized for his dedication to improving America’s youth.
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Mr. Prather is a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher who created a “pamper day” for his kids, and it’s too cute for words.
Posted by Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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