Prior to the Christmas break, several students from Creekwood Middle School asked their teacher, Mallory Pangarakis, what she would want for Christmas. Just like many long-time residents of Houston, she relayed that she wanted to meet football star J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. Therefore, the students rallied together to send Watt 99, his jersey number, reasons to visit their teacher and make her wish come true.
After Christmas and after they had sent the video in to Watt and team, they presented it to their caring teacher.
“I had no idea that my precious students would try and make my dreams a reality! They [my students] surprised me with a video when we returned to school after the winter break,” said Pangarakis. “They had planned to give me the video [my present] before we left for the break, but they weren’t able to make that deadline. They also wanted to show respect to J.J. and his family. That is, they did not want to take him away from his family during Christmas.”
Unbeknownst to Pangarakis, her best friend and colleague, Dr. Atifa Manzoor, was in on the initiative the whole time and even solicited help from the middle school’s cheerleaders. Even Principal Walt Winicki knew of the kids’ plan and had a cameo role in the video.
“Our principal is amazing and our children are blessed to have him in this leadership role. He is so encouraging and has supported the kids throughout this entire project, in the hallways and beyond. He is the one who titled the project Operation J.J.,” said Pangarakis. “I cannot say enough about the time, dedication and creativity of these students. Their energy was infectious and they are still giving me reasons to smile each and every day.”
Here are a few examples of the selfless words these children relayed throughout the video: “She needs a new best friend.”
“She gives us candy.” “She watches all of your games.” “She puts her students first.” “She loves shopping at H-E-B.” “She’s respectful.”
It is heartwarming at the core to think that a group of children used their spare time to make a difference in the life of the one that educates them daily and tries to make them smile.
During the days of Hurricane Harvey, Pangarakis’ home was significantly impacted by the storm. Not only do her students respect her as a constant role model, but they also wanted to give back in one of the biggest ways they knew possible.
Hurricane Harvey impacted so many people in ways that they will never forget. This will definitely be a situation that Pangarakis will never forget and never take for granted. There were so many people that kept it a secret and helped make it a resounding success.
“The students did not act alone. The main credit should go to Lici Zamarron, Ava Romero, Elizabeth Codoluto, Jenna Baker and Brook White. They are the young ladies who got the ball rolling,” said Pangarakis.
This well-deserving teacher has asked the community to help by sharing the following link on Facebook, facebook.com/abc13Houston/posts /10155704729129342. The way to cause action is to get noticed on social media, but she needs help.
Another way to help bring Watt to Kingwood and especially to this teacher to make her Christmas wish come true is by re-tweeting the following link on Twitter in addition to the Facebook link: twitter.com/abc13houston/status /954463353979752448.