GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It has been one surprise after another this month for Hancock High teacher Josh Lindsey. The biggest surprise came Tuesday, when Lindsey was named Mississippi's Teacher of the Year. Lindsey says it hasn't quite sunk in yet.
A day after winning the Mississippi's Teacher of the Year Award, Lindsey attended another luncheon in Gulfport honoring top educators. Even though the ceremony was for his wife Kristi, a Leo Seal Innovative Teacher Grant winner, Lindsey also got some recognition. The Hancock High teacher never dreamed that he would bring home such a prestigious prize.
"It was shocking. It was a total surprise, and the truth was I really didn't hear them call my name. I just saw everyone at my table jump up and start to clap," said Lindsey.
When he returned to work Wednesday morning, Lindsey was greeted with signs, posters, and a lot of smiles.
"My students were so excited for me. They had filled my room with streamers and balloons, and everyone was congratulating me. Students I don't even know were coming up to me," said Lindsey.
"I couldn't be prouder. He's done such an amazing job and he goes above and beyond. Not only is he a great teacher, he's a great role model for his students," said Alan Dedeaux, Hancock County Schools Superintendent.
Lindsey teaches English II at Hancock High and he coaches the boy's varsity soccer team. He is also a youth director at his church in Diamondhead.
Lindsey doesn't know why he won the award. One possibility is the fact that when he and his wife lost their apartment in Hurricane Katrina, they moved to Dallas, TX. But six months later, they decided to return to Hancock County to teach.
"We really made a commitment in Hancock County. We could have gone anywhere in the United States and we chose specifically to come back here for our church and for our school and it's just been a real blessing to have that opportunity," said Lindsey.
For being Mississippi's top teacher, Lindsey received a plaque and a $5,000 salary supplement. The Lindseys can really use that extra money.
"My wife's expecting our first child. So we'll be decorating and furnishing a nursery, and I'm probably buying some diapers as well," said Lindsey.
With so much excitement going on in his life, Lindsey never forgets his greatest inspiration, his students.
"I told them at the end, they're the students of the year and that's really what drives me to this point. I can't do anything without my students and they really deserve all the credit," said Lindsey.
Lindsey is now in the running for National Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced next spring.
"To be a representative or a voice for all of those teachers is a great honor, but also a very humbling experience. My hope is I can communicate to south Mississippi and to the state and to the nation that we in Mississippi take education very seriously. We strive to do our best. We strive to bring out the best in our students," said Lindsey.