Surprise Squad honors West Springfield teacher for her decades of helping students

The Hyundai Dealer Surprise Squad got the chance to honor a special education teacher at Fausey Elementary School in West Springfield.
Updated: Jun. 21, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Before the school year wrapped up, the Hyundai Dealer Surprise Squad got the chance to honor a special education teacher at Fausey Elementary School in West Springfield. Brenda St. Peter has left a mark on her students, staff, and their families for 26 years and now, with the help of her loved ones, it was her turn to be celebrated.

“I love you” was the message hundreds of students and staff members were spreading at Fausey Elementary School. All of them came together to surprise St. Peter, who has made a difference in the school community and left a lasting impact on not only her students, but many of her coworkers as well.

“Brenda has given me the confidence to pursue my education and has been my mentor and taught me so much. She has never done this job for anybody to say thank you,” said Amanda balboni-hurwitz

Balboni-Hurwitz is just one of the several people who nominated St. Peter for the Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad, which created a day that was unforgettable for everyone involved. With the help of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, the surprises were only just beginning.

“We have $500 for you to go spend on yourself and take the weekend and do something nice for yourself. We have $500 for you for that,” said Mike Paquette, general sales manager at Country Hyundai.

“On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, this is going to be a check for your school on your behalf. Thank you so much for everything that you do every day,” added Brian House, general manager of Balise Hyundai.

“I just found out that you were nominated more than any other educator in western Mass. You were nominated six times, so it really is a testament to the wonderful work you do and how special you are. Congratulations,” noted Gary Rome, president of Gary Rome Hyundai.

“I am so overwhelmed. Thank you, I don’t know what to say,” St. Peter said.

St. Peter was still speechless as her students showed off their own special surprise through song.

“I learn from them as much as they learn from me each and every day. They know when we are having a bad day and I know when they are having a bad day and we just learn to communicate,” St. Peter added.

However, St. Peter doesn’t do it alone.

“As I said, I can’t do it without a team. We have a lot going on in our little classroom, our little home,” St. Peter explained.

Her staff is just as grateful for all her hard work and dedication each and every day and wanted to give back to her.

“When I started, I was terrified and I had never really worked in a special education classroom, but Brenda really helped along the way being a great role model to me and I learned so much from her. The kind of teacher I am now, I wouldn’t be without her,” said Sarah Manning.

“Anybody involved with any of the kids in any aspects of their education she cares and she communicates with the parents on every level,” Balboni-Hurwitz added.

However, not only did the Fausey family come out in full force to support St. Peter, so did her own.

“Oh my God. I was screaming. She really, really deserves it…I am so happy to see a special needs teacher. They worked so hard and they don’t get attention. It was beautiful,” said St. Peter’s husband.

“She loves the school. She loves her students in that same love with her grandkids. You just see it across the plane. That’s wonderful,” added St. Peter’s daughter-in-law.

“It’s awesome. It’s awesome to see her with her kids and awesome to see her with her support team and her teachers,” said St. Peter’s son, Peter.

The Hyundai dealers were all honored to be able to give back to such a deserving teacher.

“So grateful to be a part of Surprise Squad and to be able to give back and recognize someone like Brenda, who is nominated six times. It is really great to be able to do this and build a stronger community,” Rome said.

“It was priceless. You could tell that Brenda has a great team here and to be able to get back and recognize her was fantastic. The teacher that helps out kids with special needs has a heart of gold,” Houser added.

“It was pretty awesome to honor someone who has been here for so long and to do the things that she does day in and day out,” Paquette said.

However, St. Peter said, even after all these years, coming to work still puts a smile on her face and she hopes others can be inspired to do the same

“Get in there, connect with the children, see everything they can do, not what people say they cannot do,” St. Peter said.