CASTROVILLE, Texas — She’s a product of Medina Valley ISD. Born and raised in Castroville, Lynli Jones attended elementary, junior high and high school in the same district.
As an adult, she stuck to her roots and returned to teach first grade at the same school where it all began.
Sarah Forgany surprised this deserving teacher with the KENS 5 EXCEL Award and Jones didn’t hold back when she was presented with it.
“My dad said that I have a big heart and I get overwhelmed very easily,” Jones said as she started crying. “I'm just thankful for where I'm at, what I'm doing. I have no words right now, but it'll come.”
Jones wasn’t expecting this Zoom surprise. Credit Human presented her with a $1,000 check and KENS 5 Anchor Sarah Forgany, Medina Valley ISD's superintendent, her family and colleagues came together to celebrate her.
“I'm very proud of her,” said Jones’ Mom. “And I've had to keep this secret since yesterday afternoon.”
But the secret is out at Castroville Elementary School.
“Well – excited. Wish I knew I would’ve worn something different,” she said in response to the surprise.
Different is exactly what makes Jones so loved. Her fun and silly side as she likes to call it is a student magnet.
“Reading a story – I like to do all the different little voices in there, and then I try to act it all out so that when reading a story, they get excited,” she said. "I have been blessed to see her teach in two different ways not only as her boss, which is amazing, but also that she taught my own son,” Principal Ken Center said adding, “He still talks about her to this day.”
That's just like how Jones still talks about the one teacher who inspired her before she went on to become her mentor.
“I had Mrs. Gates, Linda Gates. I had her for three years in a row. She not only taught me as a child, then once I became a teacher, she even gave me some more tips and tricks of the trade as being a teacher,” Jones said. “It was a full circle.“
Gates passed away, but her inspiring lessons are very much alive in Jones’ first-grade classroom.
Her bosses have taken notice, saying Jones was an easy choice for this award.
“Kids are engaged. They're enjoying learning. They're having fun and they love you,” Superintendent Kenneth Rohrbach told Jones during the surprise celebration.
Jones hopes one day the kids will look back and remember her.
“I would like for them to remember me – just that fun teacher that loved them.”
Be sure to catch a new winner every Thursday morning at 6 a.m. on KENS 5. You can read about past EXCEL winners here.