HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - An English teacher at Hancock High has been named the Congressional District IV Teacher of the Year. Josh Lindsey showed up for work Monday, not realizing that school administrators and a popular ice cream company have been secretly making plans to honor him.
"I know many of you are probably wondering why we're all gathered here in the gym today," Principal Rhett Ladner told to the crowd Monday morning.
More than 1,300 students, teachers, and staff filed into the gym at Hancock High. They had no idea what was about to happen.
"We come together this morning to recognize an amazing accomplishment by an amazing teacher. We are here to recognize Mr. Josh Lindsey," Ladner announced.
The crowd erupted in cheers. Josh Lindsey looked stunned as the school honored him for winning District IV Teacher of the Year. Then Ladner made another sweet announcement.
"He gets ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but he gets Blue Bell ice cream," Ladner announced.
Blue Bell representatives surprised Lindsey with four gallons of his favorite ice cream flavors: Homemade Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, and Dutch Chocolate.
"I knew we were having an assembly and that's all I knew. I was as shocked as all the students were," said Josh Lindsey. "It's a humbling experience. It really is, because everything I do is possible because of these students. I'm quite embarrassed actually."
Lindsey said all the attention made him a bit uneasy. That's because he feels more comfortable in the classroom.
Lindsey teaches English II at Hancock High and he coaches the boys' varsity soccer team. His biggest accomplishment is working with students who are struggling with their English II state tests.
"We went from about 50 students who are having to take the test to six. They had one more shot at it back in March, and I fully expect those six to pass it as well," said Lindsey. "Some of them have failed it eight or nine times, and they finally passed and that's a very rewarding experience."
"It's just a great opportunity to be able to celebrate the good things you hear about education. He's done a great job with that and it gives us great honor to celebrate this, and what better way to do it than with ice cream right?" asked Ron Davis, Blue Bell Branch Manager.
To top off the school-wide celebration, Blue Bell brought enough ice cream sandwiches for every student and school employee.
"We decided to bring ice cream for all you guys here," Davis told the delighted crowd.
"That was really special. I know my students. They would have asked for me to share. I don't plan on sharing with anybody, except maybe my wife," Lindsey said with a smile.
No doubt, Lindsey will savor this moment for a long, long time.
Lindsey is now the running for the Mississippi Teacher of the Year award. There are four nominees. The state winner will be announced next Tuesday.