Teacher of the Year finalist earns sweet recognition (video)
CUERO - When pre-K teacher Donna Baxter was living in Premont, a small town north of Falfurrias, if she wanted to get her favorite ice cream, she would have to get it specially ordered.
"Cookies and cream," Baxter said. "I would order and buy gallons of it and put in my freezer."
Now in her 29th year of teaching, the John C. French Elementary School pre-K teacher was met with a familiar surplus of her favorite ice cream flavor Sept. 19 when she was named Region III finalist of Blue Bell Creameries' Texas Teacher of the Year award.
"At Blue Bell, we believe there is no finer work you can do in this world than be a teacher," CEO and president of Blue Bell Creameries Paul Kruse wrote in a press release. "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to honor Ms. Baxter for her wonderful work."
"They gave me 2 gallons of cookies and cream, one of vanilla and another of chocolate," Baxter said. "Blue Bell is my favorite ice cream."
The award came as a surprise to Baxter, who was unaware of the competition's final results until the day of the ceremonial, campuswide ice cream drop-off.
"I couldn't believe that the teachers had kept it a secret from me," Baxter said. "I was not expecting it at all."
Along with ice cream for herself and the rest of the campus, Blue Bell Creameries also presented Baxter with a coffee table book.
Principal Kimberly Fleener said Baxter has served as a mentor to her since she started working last year.
Fleener nominated Baxter for the award.
"She has taught me more than I could possibly say," Fleener said. "She's very humble and attributes her successes to her colleagues."
To first-year teachers, Baxter suggests putting on a brave face their first couple of months in the classroom.
"I'd tell them not to be afraid," Baxter said. "Just enjoy the moment."