BRADENTON, Fla. — Going back to school comes with an array of emotions, but there is one teacher in Florida who was expressing tears of joy this week.
Manatee Elementary School teacher Jessica Nunemaker literally had to be pushed into the conference room as her fellow teachers and staff gave her the warmest back-to-school welcome you can receive on Monday.
“I was very surprised, and when they were telling me to come in I didn’t want to come in,” said Nunemaker.
“We believe that teachers are the backbone of our youth and we are honored to honor you today, so congratulations. You’re our big winner,” said Will Jackson of RNR Tire Express.
The company provided Nunemaker with $1,000 in school supplies, including everything from snacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, to even a unicorn bean bag chair.
“I don’t know, I might use that for myself, though,” joked Nunemaker.
RNR Tire Express received hundreds of nominations for teachers across the state who have gone above and beyond, but Nunemaker’s story stood out the most.
“So currently, as you can tell, I’m going through chemo. After chemo, I will have a double mastectomy, followed by radiation,” said Nunemaker as she looked ahead to anything but a routine school year.
“Nothing is slowing her down, nothing is stopping her. She is excited for the year, excited for the school kids, and we thought we could make it just a little bit better,” said Jackson.
School principal Lourdes Gonzalez said Nunemaker has been an inspiration to everyone who walks through their doors.
“Jessica has been committed and dedicated to Manatee Elementary and despite everything that she is going through, her own personal battle with cancer, she has not missed a day,” said Gonzalez.
Nunemaker, who is a reading interventionist, couldn’t imagine not being there for her students on the first day of school.
“It’s easier to come to school and come to work and keep your mind off of certain things, because these kids need it just as much as I do, if not more, so it keeps me smiling,” said Nunemaker.
This story was originally published by Robert Boyd at WFTS.