Pauline Bourne said that teaching was not her first choice.
"I just went to McNeese in education after being in nursing for three years," Bourne said.
But there are scores of kids who are sure glad she changed career paths.
Especially yours truly, I was one of Mrs. Bourne's favorite students back in 1990.
Bourne has been a teacher at Ward Elementary in Jennings for 35 years. And in those three decades of teaching, a lot has changed.
Except for Mrs. Bourne. Her love of teaching remains strong.
"This is where my heart is at, that's why I've stayed at it for 35 years," Bourne said.
And it's not just in teaching where Bourne makes an impact. Every year, for instance, she holds an Easter egg hunt at her home.
When one of her students has a birthday, she bakes a cookie cake at home and brings it to school to celebrate.
It's the celebrations, the small breaks from learning, that inspire her students to do better.
"We still do green eggs and ham, crawfish races, we do the sweetheart shakes on Valentine's Day, and the Thanksgiving feast on the floor."
Recently, a national talk show put out a call for a Top Teacher.
Unbeknownst to Mrs. Bourne, she was nominated and made it to the finals for her dedication over the years.
"It was kinda surreal," Bourne said. "I'm not one to be in the limelight. At first, I didn't know how to think about it. Seeing all of the kind words that everyone said was amazing. I had some amazing administrators and coworkers over the years that have helped mold me into the person I am today."
While she did not win the top prize, it does not matter, what matters are the students she gets up in front of everyday.
"She teaches us about capital letters, lowercase letters, I like when she reads us books, and when she teaches us," Shirley Guinn said.
"We learn about tricky words," Carly said.
I'm hearing these tricky words a lot. What is that," I asked.
"All, once, so, and know," Carly answered.
"She helps us with test sometimes," Aiden Williams said.
When you have questions or you're nervous she helps you through it," I asked.
Aiden nodded his head.
"That makes her a pretty good teacher," I said.
Aiden nodded his head again.
After 35 years, what is next for this amazing teacher?
"Try to get them to become the best student they can become," Bourne said."Even if they come to me not knowing a letter...I'd like for them to succeed and be ready for first grade the following year."