Elementary school teacher brings holiday cheer to families in need

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CORDOVA, Tenn. — Children at Dexter Elementary School were able to meet Santa Claus a little early thanks to a teacher's generosity.

Most days of the school year, Anthony Carbone teaches special needs at Dexter, but he traded in teaching for spreading Christmas joy as the man in red Wednesday morning.

"These kids are our future right here, and some of them need the help," Carbone said.

This Santa does what it takes to help his students in and out of the classroom, even if that means putting on an uncomfortable red suit and growing a gray beard just to transform into the big guy from the North Pole.

"They need that extra boost, and anything I can do, that is what it is about," Carbone said. "Just to see their eyes light up and their smile—you see kids smile that don't normally smile."

Carbone served more than two decades in the Navy, and after retiring, he found his way into teaching special needs as his second career.

Sure, he gives out hugs and even met the children Wednesday morning as they got off the bus, but he takes the act even farther and gives money out of his own pocket to the families of some students in his classroom. He even gave out food baskets to some of those families in need.

"A couple of years ago I had cancer, and I wanted to do things for other people," Carbone said. "The Lord blessed me with what I have. I'll spread it around."

The school's principal thinks everyone can learn something from Carbone and his outlook on life.

"He is just putting a smile on all our students' faces, and they'll remember this for a lifetime," Dexter Elementary principal Patrick Certion said.

Carbone has been dressing up as Santa for the past four years, ever since he started teaching, and said he plans to keep it going.

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