MAY —Angie Henderson took a non-traditional route to fulfilling her dream.

It was worth the journey for Henderson, who is in her second year as a teacher. Henderson began working at May Elementary School in the 2017-’18 school year, teaching English language arts to fourth- and fifth-grade students.

Henderson knew in high school in Carlsbad, N.M., that she wanted to be a teacher — but “life took over, and I didn’t get to go to college right after school,” Henderson said during a recent interview in her classroom.

“Life happens … I got here as quick as I could.”

Henderson completed an online degree in 2016.  Henderson and her husband, Frank, are the parents of four — two who are grown, a son who is a sophomore and a daughter who is in the seventh grade.

“This is my dream job, teaching English and reading to kids,” Henderson said.

Henderson grew up as the daughter of a construction electrician who moved frequently, following jobs around the country. By the time she graduated from high school, she had attended 27 schools.

Henderson ended up in Brown County 17 years ago with her parents, who opened Emison Electric in Brownwood.

“Our family is from here,” Henderson said. She said her great-great-grandfather owned a grocery store where the Sonic restaurant is now located on Austin Avenue.

Henderson met her husband in Brown County and worked for awhile as a cosmetologist after being trained at Ranger College. The family ended up at Lake Brownwood and became part of the May school district.

Henderson began volunteering at May Elementary School, doing tasks for teachers such as making copies helping “with whatever they needed in the classroom.”

One day Henderson was in the office, laminating for a teacher, when “they needed a (substitute) teacher really bad,” Henderson said. The school secretary asked Henderson if she wanted to sub.

“I don’t know if I’m qualified to do that,” Henderson replied.

“Oh no, you’ll be fine,” the secretary assured her. Henderson substituted the rest of the day in the band hall.

“I knew I had to be a teacher after that,” Henderson said. “The energy of the kids and just being around them was amazing. It felt like everything just clicked.

“As a mom, education has always been important to me for my own children. Whenever I was actually there, teaching other people’s children, I thought this was what I was meant to be.”

Because she had children at home, Henderson knew the traditional college route wasn’t for her. She complete an online degree through Western Governor’s University, which she described as “a fantastic program.”

Henderson did her student teaching in May, and after completing her degree in November 2016, she worked as a substitute teacher before being hired as a teacher’s aide.

Henderson learned from then-principal Natalie Steele that May Elementary would have a job opening in the 2017-’18 school year. Henderson applied and got the job.

“It was perfect for me, because I love books,” Henderson said. “I was praying. I was really praying because I really wanted to be in this school district. The teachers and everyone at May Elementary are fantastic.

“I owe a tremendous … everything I am as a teacher comes from these teachers that I work with, who allowed me to be in their classrooms and answered endless questions that I have, and still do. It’s an amazing school district. It was just an answer to prayer whenever this opening came up.”

The summer before her first year started, Henderson attended all the workshops she could, read up on state standards and prepared her classroom.

Henderson said the job has been even more than she’d hoped for. “I like interacting with the kids,” she said. “I love it whenever the students realize how meaningful reading can be.

“I teach writing as well. I love it when students find their voice in their writing. It’s so magical because they’re at a maturity where it really starts to matter to them. I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else, I don’t think.”

Henderson recalled a student who’d never been a big reader until, through trial and error, “we found a series that clicked with him.”

Now, if there is any time remaining at the end of a class, the student will ask, “can we just read?” Henderson said.

She said she’s seen similar behavior in other students. “They just want to read, and for me, in this world where these kids have five-second attention spans sometimes … whenever they just want to read, I feel like I’ve done my job.”

Henderson said she is humbled at being interviewed by the Bulletin, noting that “there are other teachers who are so much more worthy.

“I have lots of mentor teachers in this school that have been my cheerleaders from the time I started college, and now they’re my colleagues. I’m just so thankful for them. There are a lot of unsung heroes in eduction.”