By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
Though she insists she is "a regular Joe teacher" just doing her job, the mounting evidence proves otherwise.
Jayne Doxsey covered her wide-open mouth, put her hands on her chest and then covered her mouth again as a dozen H-E-B representatives crowded into her classroom to give her a $1,000 check.
As it turned out, the cash was just the beginning.
H-E-B named the Reeces Creek Elementary School teacher one of five finalists in Texas for its Excellence in Education Lifetime Achievement Award. She will find out in May if she wins the state award and its $25,000 prize.
On Thursday, Doxsey received the surprise award and check, and the school received an additional $1,000. The big prize would also bring prizes for both winning teacher and winning school.
Now in her 31st year of teaching, including 27 years in Killeen ISD, Doxsey is a frequent winner of grants and prizes.
She started her career in New York, where she taught high school literature for four years. In Killeen, she's taught first, second and fourth grades, been a Talented and Gifted facilitator and is now an elementary science teacher.
When the H-E-B crew visited Doxsey's classroom, she happened to be preparing a group of kindergarten students to plant seeds in cups that they could watch germinate.
Kindergarten teacher Jean Grimsley said, "She is the most awesome science teacher ever. These kids love science. We come (to science) every two weeks and they cheer when it's time to come."
Principal Michelle Taylor said she and Doxsey taught together years ago before reuniting at Reeces Creek.
"She takes ownership of every child in the school," said Taylor, pointing out that Doxsey sees all 1,200 of the school's students on a rotating basis. "She teaches all of them."
Taylor also credited the longtime teacher for sharing her grant-writing skills with other teachers, keeping the science classroom open to all teachers and loaning out her equipment.
Over the years, Doxsey has built a reputation for memory-building science experiences.
She took a group of first-graders and parents to a field near Stillhouse Hollow Lake to see a meteor shower at 3 a.m.
She's taken groups to see bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. Last spring, she took fifth-graders "day camping" at a local ranch.
"I'm a normal elementary school teacher," she said. "It's the high school teachers who do amazing things and impact students forever. I play all day."
On the other hand, five years ago a former student contacted Doxsey to tell her he was the lead custodian at Cornell University and that he remembered a lesson in discrimination she taught him more than 20 years earlier.
While teaching the Holocaust, Doxsey brought doughnuts and served only the blue-eyed, blond-haired children to teach the realities of injustice and discrimination. She eventually served all the children.
The former student wrote to Doxsey that he used a similar tact to train his own staff.
Doxsey said the job of teaching becomes more demanding as the state adds requirements, but that she wouldn't trade her job for anything.
"This keeps me young," she said. "It never gets old. The requirements can be overwhelming, but the kids are so excited. They say, 'There's my science teacher' and they bring me all kinds of weird stuff. They are so excited."
Taylor, Doxsey's principal, marvels at the teacher's energy.
In fact, at Reeces Creek, the veteran teacher serves as the substitute after-school tutor, because, Taylor said, "She can do it all."