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Cathy Lopez wins EXCEL Award for South San Antonio ISD

"She is a true instrument of inspiration to not only her students but to our staff."

SAN ANTONIO — Cathy Lopez says even when physically separated from some of her students, she does everything she can to make them feel included.

"My virtual and real life kids were doing the same thing, I didn't want them to feel left out," said Lopez.

The Five Palms Elementary Physical Education teacher creates workouts using household items and taped videos around campus to keep kids connected.

It's the kind of above and beyond effort principal Gregory Martinez says she gives every day. "She is the heartbeat of our campus. Whenever we need something she takes care of it. Whenever there's an idea, she runs with it. If the ball is dropped, she picks it up and takes it in. She is incredible."

Inspired by her high school track coach to become a teacher, Lopez has built a career and community at Five Palms.

"She is a true instrument of inspiration to not only her students but to our staff," said Martinez.

Her colleagues jumped at the chance to say "thank you." And Lopez expressed her gratitude to KENS 5.

"This thousand dollar check. Wow, okay, thank you so much. I feel like spinning around on this chair right now," said Lopez. "I'm just honored. Like Dr. Puig said, I don't do it for awards or for, I'm sorry, I'm just getting so emotional."

She does it for the students and plans to pass on that love for learning for years to come.

"I've been doing it for 23 years. I still love what I'm doing and I'll keep doing it until by body won't do it anymore," said Lopez.