Surprise Squad honors West Springfield teacher who’s making lasting impact

This month, the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad got the chance to meet a fifth grade teacher who fills that role for so many students at the Mittin
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:30 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 5:14 PM EST
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Everyone has that one special teacher that comes to mind for going above and beyond in the classroom. It’s an educator that makes a lasting impression, even years later and this month, the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad got the chance to meet a fifth grade teacher who fills that role for so many students at the Mittineague Elementary School in West Springfield.

Inspiring, generous, and selfless are just some of the words students at Mittineague Elementary School use to describe their fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kristen Hogan. She has been teaching at the school for 11 years and has been making an impact in her students’ lives since day one.

“When we brought her in, there were over 100 applicants, so she made it to the second round and we brought her in to teach a lesson and during the lesson, a kid climbed up in her lap and a new person coming in to teach a lesson and she already hooked them. We couldn’t pass her up,” said Mittineague Elementary School Principal Michael Atkins.

After hearing from the school’s principal, secretary, and other teachers, the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad knew Hogan deserved something special. It was a surprise weeks in the making, but one person successfully kept a secret.

“I knew for about a week, so it was hard. I had to dot my I’s, cross my T’s,” said Hogan’s husband, Kristen Hogan.

“I think they’re expecting some of the central office staff to be here, but certainly not this,” Atkins added.

Surprised was an understatement.

[Reporter: You had no idea]

“No,” Hogan explained.

Hogan was visibly overwhelmed by the large showing of love and support.

“Usually, I have a lot of words, but not right now,” she said.

The surprises then continued.

“So on behalf of Western Mass News and the Hyundai Dealers of western Mass., we want to present you with $500 to go spoil yourself and do whatever will make you happy and to take care of yourself,” said Carla Cosenzi, president of Country Hyundai.

“…And then we have another $500 for you to use in your classroom to buy whatever supplies are necessary,” added Gary Rome Hyundai General Manager Tim Ferreira.

Hogan is knowm to always put her students first. Her own first grade teacher and former Mittineague principal, Diane Doe, echoed that sentiment.

“Every child, when they’re in school, when they’re in life needs a safe place, a safe person, for so many students and even for students she doesn’t have in her classroom at the time, she’s that safe person,” Doe noted.

The safe environment Hogan creates for her students is part of the reason her co-worker and friend, Liz Wheelock, nominated her for the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad.

“She always finds the good in people when most people maybe couldn’t pick out something good and it’s really amazing and something I don’t think we see enough of anymore. It’s so genuine, it seemed right to acknowledge,” Wheelock said.

It was clear to each of the over 100 people in that room just how special Hogan is to the West Springfield community.

“To have 100 kids screaming as she walks in the door, completely surprised, you can feel the love in the atmosphere and it’s so awesome that Gary Rome Hyundai and the Western Massachusetts Hyundai Dealers can participate,” Ferreira noted.

“This was huge. I think that the room with all the confetti and the kids speaks for itself,” Cosenzi said.

Hogan told us she plans to continue making a difference in her students’ lives for many years to come.

“I am so lucky to be in this building and this is basically been home for the past 11 years and it feels like home,” Hogan said.