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When a second grader doesn't have lunch, a teacher steps in to save the day

Evelyn Flores has been inspired to become a teacher herself.
Evelyn Flores
Evelyn Flores has been inspired to become a teacher herself.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

It was lunchtime, and Evelyn Flores was starting to get really hungry. As she watched her fellow second graders leave the classroom to buy their lunch, she started to worry.

Flores lived in San Mateo, Mexico, with her parents, who were flower farmers. The family was struggling financially, so instead of buying lunch, Flores' mother would drop off food. But that day, she didn't show up.

"I was like, what happened? Why [is] my mom not here?" Flores remembered.

Usually, Flores would eat her lunch and then go and play with her friends. But her hunger and worry made it difficult to want to do much of anything.

"So I just decided to sit in the classroom because I was kind of in a bad mood," Flores said.

That's when Flores' teacher, Elizabeth Garcia, came back to the classroom.

"She was like, 'Hey Evelyn, why [are] you inside? Why are you not outside eating your lunch and playing with your friends?'"

After Flores explained her situation, Garcia told her to wait in the classroom — that she'd be right back. When she returned, she had a bottle of juice and a sandwich for Flores to eat.

"And then she was like, 'OK, eat this. Because you still have three more hours for school and then you'll be starving, and I don't want you to feel bad,'" Flores said.

Garcia stayed with Flores while she ate. The student and teacher talked through the lunch hour, and Flores remembers how supported she felt.

"She was my first best friend," she said.

Flores is now studying at Western Illinois University. She's majoring in Spanish education to follow in Garcia's footsteps.

"I want to be a teacher," Flores said. "She was a huge [inspiration] for me."

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected].

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Katz
Autumn Barnes
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