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Tribute to Teachers: Lana Patterson saying goodbye after 40+ years in education

She may be known to students as “grandma,” but this retiring educator's tough love and high expectations have helped generations of middle schoolers achieve their best.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Lana Patterson may be known to her students as “grandma,” but she’s no softie. Her tough love and high expectations have helped generations of middle schoolers achieve their best.

Before the school bell rings each morning, you are sure to find Patterson in her classroom ready to teach. She has been an educator for more than 40 years, including 22 years teaching 8th-grade math at William Dandy Middle School in Fort Lauderdale.

She’s the final honoree in this year’s Local 10 Tribute to Teachers.

Patterson has taught through multiple changes in administration, curriculum and technology.

“I had to put in a number of hours to learn what I needed to learn so that I could help my students,” she said.

She’s adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic and mastered the art of teaching in-person and online simultaneously. When schools made the switch to distance learning, Patterson secured new laptops for students in need.

“If Ms. Patterson does it, all the other teachers say, ‘OK, we can do it too,’” principal Felice Winston-Davis said.

A leader at all levels, this top teacher is admired for helping students rise to their potential.

“[The students] are very respectful of her,” Winston-Davis said. “She works with them. Hers will be the last car you see leaving because she stays with them after school to do tutoring.”

Said student Mariejoseph Rodriguez: “Now that Ms. Patterson has shown me that we can solve real world problems with math, that has helped me be more focused on math.”

This being her last year of teaching, we wanted to give Patterson a gift that comes in numbers.

The recognition from the Tribute to Teachers campaign comes with a $1,000 gift card from Publix Super Markets.

“I feel like if I make a difference in the life of one child, then I’ve done my job,” Patterson said.

Earlier this week, Local 10 honored:

About the Author:

Mayte Padron Cordones is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the director of WPLG's Community Relations Department, overseeing the station's outreach initiatives to benefit and strengthen the South Florida community.