SAN ANTONIO — They don't call them the "Big Country Bears" for nothing. Even the little ones at that Southwest Independent School District elementary school can pull off a big surprise.
“That was difficult,” Andy Kinsey said. He had the tough task of keeping Amanda Carreon away from the school’s cafeteria. But, holding back his colleague paid off.
Carreon was surprised and tearful when she walked down the hallway and started to see what was really happening.
"Your family, the superintendent, the principal, all your students are here,” KENS 5 Anchor Sarah Forgany said in front of a large crowd, as she presented Carreon with the EXCEL Award alongside our partner Credit Human.
Teaching is personal for Carreon. Her 9-year-old son, Zion, is the reason.
“Sorry, I'm going to cry anytime I talk about my son, I cry,” said an emotional Carreon. "My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three." The diagnosis would change her life personally and professionally
"He made me realize that being in the classroom is where I need to be. My special education students are super close to my heart."
She says her psychology degree gives her a unique understanding. "I substituted at a school for emotionally disturbed children that were very aggressive. I got hit and kicked and spat on."
She says she even suffered a concussion, but with love in her heart, along with acceptance, she kept on. "I love being in this class. I love working with these kids, with these behaviors, and these disabilities."
She teaches 5th grade inclusion at Big Country Elementary at Southwest ISD. Her students said they have a much better handle on their studies because the way Carreon explains things to them.
“She's a really good teacher. She deserves it,” said one student referring to Carreon winning the award.
For Carreon, she says patience and compassion are key to succeeding as a teacher. “It's also a lot of understanding that they may not understand this. They may never understand this, but you're going to sit there and you're going to continue to try. You can't give up."
Carreon says she knows exactly what these children need, and more importantly, what they deserve. She wants for them the same thing she would want for her son.
"It never stops. It's, 'How can I make myself better? How can I help these kids be more successful?'"
Our KENS 5 EXCEL award honors teachers every school year from 19 school districts. The award includes a $1,000 check from our partner Credit Human.
You can see the stories of all the past winners here.