Try not to cry watching this video: Mississippi teacher honored with new car for selfless efforts

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Mississippi teacher Triana Davis may only see herself as a teacher, but to her fifth-grade students in Byram, she is a hero. Her selfless acts during the current COVID-19 pandemic were recently honored as one of the first recipients of the Mazda Heroes program. Davis was named one of the first recipients of the honor which includes the gift of a new Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Davis was among the initial winners that were unveiled Wednesday as part of its ‘Mazda Heroes: Honoring The Human Spirit’ program. The remainder of the winners are set to be announced throughout the month of December and honored with a special ceremony in their local community.

In a news release, Mazda gave a brief description of Davis’ work with her students and their parents:

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“Remote learning has been a challenge for families across the nation, but for some, lack of home computers and internet access have made it especially challenging. At the height of the pandemic, Triana created and personally delivered custom curriculum to her students facing this situation to keep them engaged. Desiring to encourage her students when they missed out on the traditions of graduation, Triana also created special commemorative t-shirts, goodie bags, and custom-engraved medals. Nominated by her wife.”

The Mazda Heroes proogram was created by Mazda to shine a light on individuals across the country who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to their communities throughout 2020 and acknowledge the impact their efforts have made on those around them. After receiving powerfully inspiring nominations from across the nation between Oct. 5 – 25, MNAO selected 50 winners based on their demonstrated selfless acts, creative thinking, and contributions to community. Considering the brand’s deeply held value of omotenashi — the Japanese culture of putting other’s needs first — each hero will be honored with a special part of Mazda’s history, a Mazda MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition.

“This year has been full of challenges and we wanted to lean into our brand’s heritage of finding innovative ways to brighten people’s lives,” MNAO President Jeff Guyton said. “We were inspired to create the Mazda Heroes program to honor all those who are working tirelessly to uplift their own communities. We hope through Mazda’s acknowledgment of their efforts, they’ll feel empowered to continue to give back to those around them.”

During the submission phase in October, Mazda heard countless stories of people putting others first and the positive impact of their work in local communities. The selected Mazda Heroes recipients selflessly leveraged personal skills and resources to care for those in need. These “heroes” ranged from young adults creating free grocery delivery services for those at high-risk of contracting the virus, to community members partnering with local restaurants to provide free meals to healthcare workers, to musicians creating curbside concerts for the senior community that who had to remain indoors.

This first round of Mazda Heroes celebrates the humble, creative, and impactful efforts made by winners Triana Davis, Jason Erdreich and Christie Purviance.

As a middle school shop teacher, Jason leveraged his technical skills to do more than teach online during the pandemic. Instead, he gathered a team of people with 3-D printers to help make over 12,000 pieces of PPE and other cost-effective equipment needed for shifting to back-to-school teaching environments. While students were remote learning, Jason designed STEM classes for the online format and offered them at little or no charge — in addition to reworking his own typical classes. Nominated by his wife.
Watch Erdreich’s story here.

As an ICU nurse it is not uncommon to work long, gruesome shifts — but Christie approaches these 15-hour days with deeply-rooted and unmatched compassion. Even when faced with devastating COVID recovery statistics, Christie held to her conviction of treating her patients like family. During the pandemic she has gone above and beyond to comfort patients in their darkest and sometimes final hours. She brings in photos of their families and helps them video chat with one another, leaves sticky-notes of encouragement, and comforts their loved ones. Nominated by her sister.