Houston (KTRK) -- Her 90th birthday celebration came early. Dorothy Hargrove's birthday is on Christmas Day, but her long-time co-workers and friends wanted to surprise her and say thank you.
"I've never been so surprised," said Hargrove.
She's a substitute teacher at North Pointe Elementary in southeast Houston, but she's been teaching overall for more than half a century.
"She has so much energy and enthusiasm I don't know how she does it," said Stephanie Hirsch, teacher.
Before the big surprise Thursday, Eyewitness News cameras were recording Hargrove in P.E. class, and it was clear to see just why she's everyone's favorite substitute.
"She can keep the kids just so engaged she does songs and plays with them," said Hirsch.
Mrs. Hargrove remembers teaching back when segregation was a big issue.
"I didn't even dream of being with kids this long but I'm happy to have them," said Hargrove.
It's a mutual feeling for the students and staff.
"She is just an amazing woman she has filled in for me in kindergarten, third and first grade. She subs every content area art, music, P.E.," said Ms. Hirsch.
At 89 years young, she has also been through a lot. She became a single mom when her first husband drowned in an accident.
"I decided that day you don't know when the time is coming, so I tell the children make this the best day we can because it's all were assured of," she said.
That's what she does every day hoping to inspire the young minds of tomorrow.
Birthday surprise at SE Houston school for beloved substitute teacher turning 90