BANGS — At J.B. Stephens Elementary School in Bangs, kindergarten teacher Amanda Long recalled her own experience as a kindergarten student at Brownwood’s Northwest Elementary School.

“My own kindergarten teacher — her name is Kay Hagood — she made learning so fun while I was in kindergarten, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do for other people,” Long said.

Long transferred to the Bangs school district in the third grade, and when her fellow students had a homecoming dress-up day that year, Long dressed up like a teacher.

“I guess I just always kind of knew,” Long said, explaining when she realized she would be a teacher. “I just remember feeling so excited to go to school. I just never got away from that excitement.”

Long graduated from Bangs High School and later from Howard Payne University, and is married to Charles, her high school sweetheart. The two are active at Brownwood Evangelism Center.

While still attending HPU, Long student-taught at J.B. Stephens. She hoped, she prayed, for a chance to teach at the school after graduating from HPU. She interviewed with the principal for a teaching job before she graduated.

“About a week later, he said he’d like to offer me a job,” Long said. “He wanted to know if I wanted either kinder(garten) or fourth grade. Of course my heart was always kinder, so it was like God opened this huge door where I was offered my dream job I had always wanted.

“I told him I would teach whatever, but I would really love kinder, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Long, now in her seventh year of teaching, said kindergarten is special because “the kids are just eager to learn, and things excite them. I love being able to see that excitement every day. It’s every day that I get to see little light bulbs go off. They’ll come in … ‘what are we doing today?’ They’ll kind of look around … ‘oh, we’re doing this!’”

Long said she’s been asked if she can see herself doing any other job. “I think this is my calling — a kinder teacher,” Long said. “I don’t think I could see myself doing anything — at the moment, I can’t.”