Former ACE Student Wins Reaud Award

ACE Program's Judy Williams, Jimmy Grimes and Brenda Mott

Jimmy Grimes, Jr. remembers August 22, 1996 as a pivotal moment in his life and entry into college. His dream was halted by a terrible car wreck. From that summer day until now he has overcome more than most will in a lifetime. He is the recipient of the 2012 Reaud Excellence in Education Award and one of only a few recipients that has only been teaching a short five years. As part of the Beaumont Foundation’s ongoing commitment to support education, the Wayne A. Reaud Excellence in Education Award was created in 2009 to celebrate and recognize superior contributions of teachers whose leadership and dedication inspire a spirit of learning in students of all backgrounds and learning abilities. Fifteen teachers are selected annually to receive this prestigious award in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the education system of Southeast Texas. Each award recipient is honored at an awards gala on May 2 and will receive a crystal obelisk, a portrait and $10,000.

Grimes graduated from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School in 1996 and was active in the student council, school newspaper, year book staff and Key Club. His goal of attending McNeese State University in Lake Charles was halted on the Wednesday before his first day at college by a car accident. He had severe head injuries and was told he would be in the hospital at least six months. According to Grimes, he needed to “relearn everything, all the basic fundamentals.”

Instead he was in the hospital for two weeks then a brain trauma rehabilitation hospital in Galveston for two-and-a-half months and out the day before Thanksgiving.

“My dream to get to college was just put on hold,” said Grimes.

He had to take a special test to get into college and began at McNeese State University in January 1997, only four months after the accident. He made the honor roll his first semester.

“It’s amazing what people doubt you can do and amazing what you can do,” he said. “I’m still on the learning curve. It’s 10 percent me and 90 percent the good Lord. I ask him daily to give me the right words to reach the kids I teach. My philosophy on teaching can best be summed up as the willingness to do whatever is necessary to help a child understand the subject and concepts which they are trying to learn. I see this as a challenge and an opportunity to help them on their road to educational success.”

He went on to say “To have a male as an elementary educator could be a great asset since so many kids these days come from an array of backgrounds. Children need to have an adult male around to fill the void they may have and give them a role model to look up to. I will do anything and everything I can to educate a child so they will understand and grasp educational success.”

Grimes graduated from McNeese State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in print journalism and sociology. After graduation he entered the Accelerated Certification for Teachers Program at Lamar State College-Orange where he earned his teaching certificate.

“The ACE Program was a very beneficial program that got me ready and made me have a better understanding what a classroom looks like,” he said. The ACE Program coordinator Judy Williams and program instructor Dorraine Babcock were his elementary school teachers. He obtained his early childhood-4th grade certification in 2006 and taught his first year at West Orange-Cove CISD Bancroft Elementary. The following year he began teaching fifth and sixth grade at Jasper ISD.

“I do whatever it takes to reach a child,” said Grimes. “They truly believe I care and they will try to walk on water for me. I give 110 percent and expect them to give 110 percent. That’s the best part of being a teacher. It’s so rewarding to help a student who is having a hard time, then that light bulb goes off. Making progress is what counts, their efforts. I’m so proud of all my students at Rowe Intermediate. We battle new technology every day and need to be innovative in our approach to teaching.”

Grimes said he remembers a quote and tries to follow it: If a child cannot learn the way we teach, then we will teach the way they can learn.

When asked his advice for students in college contemplating becoming a teacher, he said, “I commend anyone who wants to be a teacher. It’s challenging in many ways. You must make sure you have a passion for it, not just someone looking for summers off. Kids sense these things. They know if it’s just a job or your career. When they know it’s your passion they will do better as well. I’m doing what I like to do and hopefully can reach a child.”

Grimes was surprised and humbled of the Reaud Excellence Education Award but found out he was a winner by accident. His friend, who is a teacher and coach in Bridge City, sent him a text about what he read in a local newspaper. Grimes had to ask the school nurse to look online to see what his friend was talking about. The school principal, Stacey Woolems, then had to confess she was trying to keep it a secret until the staff meeting where she made the presentation in front of the superintendent, school board members and middle school teachers. His plans to use the $10,000 award will be to clear up “one last credit card bill, and put a little back for future incentives for my students and classroom.”

Grimes is the son of Mary Grimes of Orange and Jimmy Grimes, Sr. of Orange. His brother James Grimes of Lake Charles is the Master Sociology and Mental Health Counselor at McNeese State University. Before leaving Orange to teach at Jasper ISD, Grimes was active in the Orange Jaycees. He is currently a sports correspondent writer for the Jasper Newsboy and mentor to preteens through Rowe Buddies. He also obtained a second teaching certification in 2008 for English Language Arts and Reading 4th -8th grade.