By Raiza Giorgi

Linda Carlson has been coined “The Tooth Fairy” of Ballard School because as the Kindergarten teacher for the past 28 years, she has pulled out so many teeth and she wears her Tooth Fairy costume each Halloween for the school’s parade. 

Many parents have thought she is more than a fairy, rather an angel, as they wanted to do something magical for her as she retired this year from more than 40 years total of teaching. The parents got together and created a GoFundMe to raise money for purchasing a Vespa for Carlson’s retirement. 

“After giving so much to so many children and families in this valley, we want to show our profound appreciation and to send her off in style,” said Karen Loizides, organizer of the fundraiser. 

Photo contributed

Loizides and fellow parent Tamara Rowles were able to get more than $5,700, purchased a teal Vespa and presented it to Carlson at the end of the school year. 

Carlson came to the Santa Ynez Valley 28 years ago when her husband was transferred and got hired at Ballard School. 

She taught in the historic Little Red Schoolhouse, the first public school in the valley, which was built in 1882 and has been in continuous operation since, according to the school history. It was dedicated as a historic landmark June 2, 1968, by Santa Barbara County. 

“Kids are so capable, I don’t treat them like babies and we are a team together,” Carlson said in her interview with Rowles for the SYV Stories podcast. 

When Carlson was little, she had a bad experience and was a late reader. She wanted to be a teacher to ‘be nice’ to all the kids. When she became a teacher the younger kids were her favorite. She taught in Long Beach for a year as a combination teacher, and then went to Kindergarten her second year of teaching. 

“We had a lot of refugees from Cambodia, I had 46 kids with no aide and these kids just had the clothes on their back,” Carlson said. “My greatest education was that year.” 

Teaching has always been Carlson’s passion and she loves shaping the kids into good role models, she added. 

“Little towns like Ballard have legends and Linda (Carlson) is definitely one of ours,” said Ballard Superintendent Allan Pelletier. “She is what every child should have for a Kindergarten teacher. She just has a fantastic learning environment. She has giant shoes to fill.” 

Through the years, she created time capsules, doing interviews with her kids and sealing them until the kids graduate high school, where they all come back to hear what they said so many years ago. 

“We have cake to celebrate and those seniors sit on the floor and talk to each other and about their plans. It’s safe for them to come back,” Carlson said. 

Along with teaching her children she had always dreamed of being on a Vespa to cruise around Catalina Island with her husband, and now she will. 

To hear the entire interview with Carlson visit or search SYV Stories on your podcast app.