SCHERTZ, Texas — It's not every day we get to crash a pajama party but this was no ordinary day at Watts Elementary.
“Oh my Gosh, how did this happen,” laughed Carissa Livingston as she accepted her award.
“Today is our theme for Pajamas and Hot Cocoa. It’s a wonderful place to be.”
Funny thing, her 4th grade classroom just happens to be her comfort zone, a second home for Livingston. Yet, it wasn't always that way.
“When I was hired to teach 4th grade. I was not thrilled about that position because I was coming as a 4th-grade teacher," Livingston recalls.
"So you were nervous?" Forgany asked.
"I was nervous and I love it. 4th grade is my place,” Livingston replied.
Livingston has two daughters of her own but considers all of her students family.
EXCEL Award | Watts Elementary teacher gets the ultimate surprise
And It’s easy to see why they gravitate to her.
“She’s amazing. I love her,” said one student before other kids jumped in, “She tells us if you have a mistake to keep trying and make it better. Every time we’re upset she makes us laugh," said another student.
Livingston not only brings passion to the classroom but also a different perspective.
She and her husband who’s a teacher at Judson ISD, have been organizing school field trips for years now and taking dozens of students to many places all over the world.
“We’ve gone to Greece, Germany, London and Paris. Spain, Costa Rica. A lot of different adventures,” Livingston said.
Together, they bring history books to life.
“Seeing those big sites. You know those things you always dream of but when it's actually right there in front of you like the Eiffel Tower you walk up and it's like, 'Wow. It's real',” Livingston added that watching their eyes light up is the best feeling.
“Just the kids experiencing these moments they thought they'd never do and some people may never get the opportunity in their whole life and here we are experiencing it together.”
But the most rewarding part of all Livingston says happens in the classroom, when a student who’s been struggling, finally figures it out.
“The way they light up and get excited when they discover something. When they're in that moment of frustration and figure it out.”
From kindergarten to first grade and now 4th graders, Livingston with a big smile on her face, says this is exactly where she has always pictured herself.
“This is my 16th year teaching and I'm loving every day."