Thanks to Teachers: Surprise recognition for Henderson Co. teacher leads to shock, tears

Alicia Lyda of Apple Valley Middle School.jpg
Photo credit: WLOS Staff

Teachers learn early on to expect the unexpected, but a veteran Henderson County teacher was blindsided when told a parent nominated her for News 13’s Thanks to Teachers segment.

It was an emotional moment Wednesday when Principal Peggy Marshall walked us toward the classroom with to tell Alicia Lyda the news--with our camera rolling.

"Alicia's very full of a lot of passion,” Marshall told News 13. “So you're gonna see a lot of smiles, a lot of hugs, maybe some tears."

Thanks to Marshall, we knew going in there'd be waterworks.

"Well I didn't see the camera at first, I saw her!" Lyda said.

"I have a special surprise for you,” Marshall said, walking into class. “I'm with WLOS today, you've been nominated by (parent) Tara Craig."

"I don't know what to say!" Lyda responded, the shock quickly turning to emotion and tears of pride.

"So, speech, what do you want say?” Marshall asked her.

“I love Apple Valley. I love the students I teach,” Lyda said, her emotions display. “I love that I've been here so long that I am able to experience generations of students."

She's taught at the school for 23 years.

"I was hired right out of college,” she says, flipping through an old yearbook from her first year on the job.

Bo Caldwell, who’s now county superintendent, hired her.

"’I want you to make nine positive phone calls every nine weeks,’” Lyda recalls him saying.

She took that advice and ran with it.

"And parents who would say, 'Are you sure you have the right number? This is the first time anybody has ever called me to brag on my kid!'” she said.

If your child's in her class, you can pretty much count on a text.

"Seventeen parents today,” she said, counting her text messages to so far that morning.

Outside the classroom, Lyda's got a galaxy of stars posted on the wall, given out to encourage her students.

For her, a Thanks to Teacher nomination must feel as satisfying as receiving one of those stars. Maybe that’s what lead to the emotion.

"Because I really feel connected to this community, and I love what I do,” she said, standing with students. “It's a pleasure to get up every morning and to be able to see these guys and to be a part of, a little part of their life."

Students and their families would tell you the pleasure is all theirs.