ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — American author John Maxwell once said “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Renee Hall teaches 3rd grade ESE students at 74th Street Elementary School in St. Petersburg. She primarily teaches students on the autism spectrum.

For seven of her eight students, online help worked. But it didn’t work for Brooks Merritt, 10.

Hall recognized that very early, and decided she needed to reach out to his family.

“That is why I reached out to his parents and said we need to figure out something else,” Hall said.

For Hall, that meant leaving her home and going to Merritt’s home.

Twice a week, she drives to his house and gives one-on-one lessons, be it fractions or time-telling. She sits on one side of a sliding glass door and Brooks sits on the other side. With markers they write on the glass and they work through about an hours’ worth of lessons.

“Just get him into that daily routine, it was, it was a struggle for about two or three weeks,” said Will Merritt, Brook’s dad. Digital learning for Brooks just won’t work.

But Hall’s patience was able to get Brooks back on track. With each lesson, Brook’s learning has been getting better and better.

“(A) huge thanks, and huge kudos,” Will Merritt said. “We are blessed, we are very, very blessed with Mrs. Hall.”

If coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.