TAMPA, Fla. - Brooks Nipps is beaming with pride. He just graduated from Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School. But what made the event so special for Brooks was his third grade teacher, Jessica Gainer, who showed up for the celebration.
"She was just the best teacher ever," said Brooks. "She always nice. Every time we came in, she would always say, ‘How are you doing?’”
When Brooks was in Ms. Gainer's class, she made a promise to every student: If they remembered to invite her to their high school graduation, she would come.
"It was just an amazing feeling of seeing her at my graduation and that she keeps her promises," Brooks continued.
"We are humans. Sometimes we say things and we don't stick to it," said Gainer. "But for children, we need to show them that we care, we support them, and that when we say something, we mean it."
The gesture has special meaning for Brooks’ family.
"She's just a wonderful teacher and it’s awesome and amazing that she kept her promise to these kids. It means a lot," said Brooks' mother, Julie Nipps.
Gainer says it's important that children know that teachers care. "I'm hoping that he's encouraged, that he's supported and that he knows that he is loved. Not just by me, but I'm sure, all of his teachers."
Brooks completed his AA degree from HCC through dual enrollment at Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School. He will be going to University of South Florida this fall to pursue a degree in marketing.
In the meantime, he has a very special message for his favorite teacher.
"Thank you for being a great teacher over the years and great friend over the years for me, and thank you for encouraging me to get my degree."