‘It can’t be true’: North Tahoe teacher awarded car
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Standing in front of her art class at North Tahoe High School is a place Jo Anna Battaglia belongs.
Back problems, diabetes, and a backward fall last August that resulted in stitches to her head haven’t been able to keep Battaglia from her students. She knows the rigors of the classroom aren’t ideal for her health problems, but her students come first — they always have.
“That’s me,” said Battaglia, who celebrated her 50th birthday on Sunday. “I can’t not be there for the kids. That’s not my M.O.”
Battaglia has been teaching in the area for nearly two decades, but health problems and a rise in cost of living have made things challenging of late. Back problems that will require surgery have forced her to move from using a cane to a walker.
To make it more difficult, Battaglia and her husband share a vehicle, which has its own mechanical issues. When their car is working, Battaglia is often dropped off to work at North Tahoe High School, and then relys on a fellow teacher to get a ride back to the couple’s home in Kings Beach. She said she used to ride an e-bike to work but because of her back injury and trauma from hitting her head in August, that is no longer an option.
“I’ve just been a hot mess,” said Battaglia.
‘It can’t be true’
Wednesday, Nov. 30, was a typical day at North Tahoe High School.
Students were bustling about the halls making their way from class to class and Battaglia was going along with her usual lesson plans of teaching painting, ceramics and photography when a voice popped over the school’s intercom saying, “Jo Anna Battaglia please come up to the dining commons.”
There she found several of her students and Santa Claus waiting next to a 2003 Subaru Outback.
“I went up there, they had all the kids around the car, and they surprised me with the car,” said Battaglia. “Instantly I cried. I’m just overwhelmed. It can’t be true.”
The Subaru was given to Battaglia by The Auto & Tire Doctor as part of the company’s annual holiday car giveaway.
“This years winner had us all shedding a tear,” said Jodi DeRuise, The Auto & Tire Doctor manager and organizer of the company’s annual car giveaway, in an email to the Sierra Sun. “Jo Anna was genuinely grateful and definitely surprised. We hope this made her year and this vehicle brings some welcomed relief to her life.
Each year, The Auto & Tire Doctor finds and fixes a vehicle, and then gives it away during the holiday season. Winners of the car are chosen based on nominations sent in to the company.
This year’s car was donated to The Auto & Tire Doctor, which then replaced the head gaskets, brakes, axles, water pump, and timing belt.
Battaglia was chosen based on nominations written by her students at North Tahoe High School.
Students nominating Battaglia called her a “warrior” and “North Tahoe’s overall favorite teacher,” while others wrote about her capacity to go the extra mile for them even while struggling with her own health problems.
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