Surprise Squad honors Springfield teacher helping her students and community

Students and staff came together with the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers and Western Mass News to honor fifth grade teacher Denice Ranson.
Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2023 at 2:54 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The school year is underway, which means the Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is back and this month, we took a trip to Mary Lynch Elementary School in Springfield. On a beautiful fall day, students and staff came together with the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers and Western Mass News to honor fifth grade teacher Denice Ranson, who gives her all to her students and her community each and every day.

At the school, students and teachers gathered outside the building for school picture day on a beautiful, sunny October morning, but all the smiles, dancing, and cheering – even an appearance by the school’s lion mascot – was about more than just picture day. Everyone was gathering around to surprise Ranson, who had no idea what she would find behind on the other side of the doors.

Ranson was nominated because of not only what she does for everyone at the school, but also what she does outside for her community, her church, her family, her kids. Everything that she has been able to get back, they wanted to get a little bit back to her and with the help of the Hyundai dealers, we were able to do that.

“You’re Ms. Ranson, right? On behalf of the Hyundai dealerships, we sent a check in your name for the school. Thank you so much for everything you do every day,” said Brian Houser, general manager at Balise Hyundai.

“On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers and Western Mass News, we want to give you another check for $500 for all you do for all of these amazing students, for the school, for the community. We are all so appreciative and you are such an inspiration,” said Country Hyundai President Carla Cosenzi.

“I’m speechless. I can’t…it is amazing. I can’t put it into words. It is truly amazing. I just come in and do it for the kids, knowing that they need so much. It is not a second thought. They keep me going during everything,” Ranson said.

Ranson comes from a family of educators who she thanked as her inspiration for beginning her teaching career 17 years ago, but it’s the kids she’s met along the way that motivate her every day, especially amid her recent health challenges.

“Their hearts are just so pure of love and the love of education. They are just so innocent and they want to learn everything that you have to give to them and it makes you really want to give them more,” Ranson added.

However, it’s not just her students she gives her all to.

“We nominated Denice because she does everything for everyone every day. She does anything that you can for her students. She does anything she can do for her own kids at home. It’s just who she is all the time, all the time,” said Kristie Budrecki, who nominated Ranson for the surprise.

Everyone who knows and loves Ranson can attest to her hard work and dedication, whether it’s at her church, at home with her four kids, or even on the football field.

“It’s fun having Ms. Ranson because, fun fact, I play football. She’s one of the team moms for 12U and so it’s just nice having a team mom teaching me from the football games,” said fifth grader Amir Jenkins

“To know her on a personal level and we’re a part of the same ministry as well our church, and so I get to interact with her outside of school and she’s consistent. She’s who she is at all times,” said Mary Lynch Elementary School Principal Lakia Baymon.

Baymon called Ranson an inspiration to their ‘Team Lynch’ and was excited to give back a little bit to someone who gives so much.

“To be able to see her fight through and be able to persevere and, even when she’s not feeling 100 percent, still come and give her best, that hopefully will be a message to them that’ll let them know no matter what you’re going through, you can keep going,” Baymon explained. “Listen, she keeps them on point, ya know. The expectations are high, but she’s fair and she has fun with them, so she makes learning a fun thing for them to do, but definitely holds them accountable for their work.”

Fair, but fun is something her students agree with.

“She’s a very nice teacher. I love being with her. She is very tough, but she teaches you and she gets you through things. She just wants the best for you and she really wants you to be well. She wants to get us ready for things that are coming towards us and she wants us to do well with those things that are coming,” said fifth grader Audacy.

“Sometimes, we like to joke around and sometimes, the work is fun too,” added fifth grader Justin.

Based on the reaction from the moment she walked out the door, it was clear just how much Ranson means to everyone at the school.

“So we’ve done a lot of these, this is probably the loudest surprise squad we’ve done, so you could just feel the love from the school, from the children. It was amazing,” Cosenzi added.

“Oh my gosh, it’s just loud and proud. The kids were amazing. The excitement, they were all so well behaved. When they can turn around, they let it rip, so it was a lot of fun to watch,” said Kevin Schechterle, general sales manager at Gary Rome Hyundai.

“The lion reminded me of Madagascar. Alex the Dancing Lion was fantastic to see and he was getting the crowd pumped up. We might have to put that on me the next time we come out to do a surprise squad,” Houser noted.