One Lafayette Parish teacher has found a new career path at 60 years old.
And he's come to find out that teaching may just be his true calling.
The educator at the heart of this story is Tommy Deblieux.
In just his second year at Cathedral-Carmel School, Tommy is already a Lafayette Education Teacher Awards Finalist in the inspirational category.
Two years ago, this longtime salesperson sort of answered a spiritual want-ad.
"I think it's just an affirmation that when I said 'yes' to God to retire from my sales job and do this full-time, this is absolutely saying, 'You did the right thing, Tommy'."
Mr. "W" is now in the business of helping Cathedral middle schoolers weather the storms of growing up. And perhaps, with regards to their faith, keeping them on track .
Even though he'd done youth ministry and mentoring for a few decades, it's been only two years as an "official" teacher.
And with Tommy W being 60 years old, he says his students are what keep him going.
"I don't think a single one of these kids doesn't know that I love them very much," he says.
Tommy says that a former English teacher, long gone from this mortal plane, continues to inspire his teaching.
And in turn, Tommy W hopes to do the same for his students as a sort of inspirational and philanthropic pay it forward.
"I think a big part of it is that when I was their age, I needed a Mr. Tommy. I needed somebody that believed in me and loved me unconditionally," he says. "And I didn't have that growing up. So I'm trying to be the person I needed when I was 13, 12 years old.
The Lafayette Education Foundation Teacher Awards ceremony takes place Wednesday, January 29 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center.
The cost to attend is five dollars for students and teachers and ten for all other guests.
Tickets can be purchased at the Heymann Center box office or through Ticketmaster .