October's Excellent Educator: Shelly Thibodaux

"She’s just not like other teachers," says an 8th grade student at Robert T. Hill Middle School

Teachers do more than teach in the classroom. They mold our future.

Southern Methodist University and NBC 5 introduced our Excellent Educators series, which honors education professionals across North Texas who go above and beyond.

Ms. Shelly Thibodaux, a physical education teacher and athletic coach at Robert T. Hill Middle School in East Dallas, is October’s Excellent Educator.

For 38 years, physical education has been Thibodaux’s passion. For her, it's much more than a P.E. class. Thibodaux has turned it into a support system for higher education.

"I know I had an English teacher who always had my back, and that’s what I want to be to my kids," said Thibodaux.

Not only does she facilitate a number of great programs at Hill and in her community — which include Nancy Lieberman charities, Fuel Up To Play 60, and Girl Scouting in the school day cookie box creations — those who know and work with Thibodaux admire and respect her as a coach, role model, mentor and a friend.

“She’s just so understanding, and she helps you a lot and she understands you, and she gives good advice,” said 8th grader Mary San Juan.

"I think all of us can name those few teachers in our K-12 that made all the difference in the world to us, and so these students have that same kind of experience, and so having that opportunity to honor one of them that make that different in their lives is a great opportunity for SMU," said SMU President, Dr. R. Gerald Turner, who presented Thibodaux with a $1,000 check for the students and middle school.

It starts with teachers like Thibodaux.

"I’m at the age in my career where to me it’s very important to create once in a lifetime opportunities for my students," she said.

Opportunities which include going to the Final Four, a flag presentation at the American Airlines center, pictures with Dallas Cowboys players and chances to meet a number of celebrities.

"She’s just not like other teachers," said San Juan. "Other people just come to her class thinking, 'oh, she’s just a physical education teacher,' but she’s much more than that."

"I’m feeling great. Amazing. Honored. Honored," said Thibodaux.  

ONLINE: Nominate a North Texas teacher who inspires you

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