HOUSTON - Kazmere Dean showed up to Dogan Elementary on Tuesday morning ready to teacher her second grade class, as she did every day for the last three years.
However, this day was anything but ordinary.
Little did she know, she'd be surprised with an award that would bring her to tears.
Here are five things to know about Dean and her reward:
1) She had no idea.
Dean had no idea that she was chosen by the HISD community Houston Independent School District. In her words, she was "completely shocked."
"It is unbelievable. It is amazing," said Dean. "Ms. M. came into my room and they were like, 'Oh, we have a leadership opportunity for you tomorrow, so just be prepared for it,' and I went home and got my resume together was practicing what I was going to say, what I was going to answer for interview questions. I had no idea that this was going to be happening."
It is all part of a new Teacher of the Month program that HISD is launching to encourage teachers to do their best to inspire students to learn and succeed in the classroom.
"We have seven areas in the city, which are portfolios of schools. Every area will have an opportunity to select one teacher. It's an open nomination process. People can nominate who they think they are and write about why they are the nominee for Teacher of the Month," said HISD superintendent Richard Carranza. "There's a selection process and then we get to the person that we choose."
Carranza, trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Dogan Elementary School principal Sandra Menxueiro walked to Dean's second grade class to surprise her. The classroom cheered. Dean then walked outside the school to see her brand new BMW 3 Series loaner parked right outside, which she will be able to drive for a month. She also received a $150 gift card.
"I can't even explain how much it means to me," said Dean. "And, even for my students -- for them to see that how much hard work I put in, it actually pays off."
2) She has lived all over the United States and grew up in Seattle.
The 2012 graduate of Arizona State University grew up in Seattle. After college, she joined Teach for America, who relocated her to Houston. She has been teaching for five years. She first taught at Neighborhood Center Pre-K and has been teaching at Dogan Elementary for three years. She teaches five subjects.
3) She is motivated by her students.
"They are the ones that inspire me and drive every day," said Dean. "Just giving them the tools to know that they can make it in the world that really isn't set up for them to succeed, so they are the ones that drive me every single day of my life."
. @HoustonISD starts new Teacher of the Month program. Teacher surprised with $150 gift card and luxury car to drive for a month @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/CiUDZHef8j — Rose-Ann Aragon KPRC (@RAragonKPRC2) November 7, 2017
Dean hopes to give students in underserved communities tools to help get those students out of poverty.
"Our demographic is poverty," said Dean. "Many of our students are in poverty and so for them, basic needs are very hard for them to come by. So for me, knowing their situation, knowing what they're up against, their only way out is education at this point. What drives me is knowing that and making sure they have the tools to equip them and handle a world that is not set up for them to succeed."
4) She was also inspired by her grandfather, who recently died.
Dean had recently returned to class from personal leave after her grandfather died. She said this achievement was for him.
"I actually owe it to my grandfather, who was one of my biggest teachers in my life and he passed last Sunday, and to me this is sentimental because it's almost like him saying, 'Job well done,'" she said.
5) She is planning to buy a BMW once the month is over.
Dean said right now she drives a 2006 Honda Accord. After sitting in the car, she said she was planning on buying a BMW after the month is over.
"I appreciate Group 1 Automotive for this, and I will be purchasing my vehicle from them when it comes time," said Dean. "It's going to be very hard for me to give up my beautiful car, so they might see me within the next month."
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