JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A teacher in Jefferson County was honored by Isaiah Thomas and the Denver Nuggets for going above and beyond his normal duties to help his students.
“I’m filled with these mixed emotions of being really proud and feeling honored and recognized and whether I deserve that recognition or not,” said James Hoekstra, a 6th grade teacher at Belmar School of Integrated Art.
On Wednesday, Thomas gave Hoekstra the Most Valuable Teacher award. Hoekstra doesn’t like the attention, but the Nuggets were drawn to the teacher for what he did to start the year.
The 6th graders at Belmar started the year in August by going to Outdoor Lab on Mount Evans.
“I knew Laz from last year, I knew he was going to be going to outdoor lab with us and it had been in the back of my head all summer,” Hoekstra said.
For all of July and August, he searched the internet to rent a motorized all-terrain wheelchair for Laz Logan who suffers from the muscle disorder Dystonia.
“There was a kind woman suffering from ALS up in Arvada and she had an ad on Craigslist. When they found out who it was for, and what we were trying to do. They bent over backwards to help us,” Hoekstra said.
Allowing every kid to participate has had positive impacts reverberate throughout the school year.
“This group of sixth graders is phenomenal. We bonded at outdoor lab in August and we’ve been reaping the benefits since,” Hoekstra said.
He’s a 17-year veteran of outdoor lab.
“The best outdoor lab story to tell you, we were the one school that was at Mt. Evans the year of the flood and we had to self-rescue. It was epic. It was absolutely epic. Roads washed out. We can’t get to you until Tuesday, we have kids that needed meds,” Hoekstra said.
The MVT award was a surprise to Hoekstra. He gets to attend a game in March and will get a $500 check. The accolades make him uncomfortable, and he was quick to spread the credit.
“There’s a whole team of us that do this and I feel like, I feel kind of bad. I’m the one that gets the piece of paper and the whole team doesn’t get it,” Hoekstra said.