Two Hobbs teachers were caught unaware Wednesday when Beverly Jordan, from the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs appeared in their classrooms to present Everyday Hero Awards to them. At College Lane Elementary School, Florence King was surprised when Jordan appeared at her classroom door with the award.
“The school knew she was coming and my husband and my sister knew, but nobody said a word. I didn’t have any idea,” King said.
Jordan, the project director for the Everyday Hero Awards, said the award is new.
“We’ll be going all over the state to give awards to people who are making a positive difference in the lives of African Americans,” Jordan said. “Recipients don’t have to be people of color. They do have to be people who are doing exceptional work in the areas of education, health or economics. We will try to make the awards a surprise by going to their workplaces to honor them among their peers and their students.”
King is a teacher’s aide in a self-contained special education classroom.
“It’s a level D class,” she said. “The children in the class have disabilities so severe they can’t go to regular classes.”
A graduate of Hobbs High School, King has been teaching in the Hobbs school system for 13 years. She has been working with special education students during all that time.
“I love these kids,” she said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.” King is heavily involved in her church, El Bethel. She teaches the primary Sunday School class, is on the praise and worship team and is the choir director. She and her husband, James King teach the Better Me class for adults on Thursday nights.
“And, whenever anyone in the community calls with a need, I am there,” King said. “I want to thank everyone for recognizing me and the people who nominated me.”
Across town, Ernest Hodge, who teaches pre-algebra and algebra I at Highland Middle School said Thursday that he was “astounded” by the award. “My understanding is that it’s recognition for service to the community and the church,” Hodge said. “I have no idea who might have nominated me.”
Hodge, who is the pastor of Pentecostal Temple, said he is pleased to have received the award.
“I’m just so proud to have been nominated,” Hodge said. “And at the same time, I am so humbled.”
Students in Hodge’s pre-Algebra appreciate Hodge’s work with them.
Colton Colbin, 13, described Hodge as “different.”
“He’s creative and funny and that’s what makes him different,” Colbin said.
Tucker Wallace, also 13, agreed.
“He’s not afraid to be different. He’s not boring and he is really laid back,” Wallace said. Brittni May, 14, who sits in the same study pod with Colbin and Wallace, said, “I agree with what they said. He is absolutely the way they describe him.” People who want to nominate someone for an Everyday Hero Award can call Jordan at 505-883-6220 or email.