A veteran La Joya Independent School District teacher at Clinton Elementary School gets the surprise of her career.
Mercedes Silva is rewarded on Pay it 4Ward for her selfless acts of kindness.
Co-workers say she uses her own money to buy shirts for students, brings breakfast for others on long days, drives colleagues to work so they can save on gas, and makes home visits for students in need.
She does it all without expecting anything in return.
Mrs. Silva is called back to Clinton Elementary School for a fake meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Action 4 News is in the library where Mercedes thinks the meeting is at.
She believes the camera crew is there to interview the superintendent about summer programs.
Action 4's Ryan Wolf strikes up conversation with Mercedes as the two sit alone in an area.
Ryan: Was it a good year? I heard a lot of good things happened at Clinton.
Mercedes: Yes. It's a good school to be in.
Mercedes doesn TMt realize a camera is recording the conversation from a distance.
Ryan: We're really excited to be here but it's not just for the superintendent.
Mercedes: Oh really? For Clinton?
Ryan: It's for Clinton and somebody else.
Little does she know, dozens of her colleagues are waiting outside the library to share with her what an incredible person she is.
The Pay it 4Ward surprise begins to unfold.
Ryan: I'm here because of you.
Ryan: Because of you.
Mercedes: You're funny.
Ryan: It's the incredible work you do for the students.
Mercedes: You're crazy.
Ryan: And for what you do for staff at Clinton Elementary. Paula come on in.
Paula Garcia is a co-worker who nominated Mercedes for the Pay it 4Ward prize on valleycentral.com.
Her online submission talks about how she's one-of-a-kind, inspiring and giving without expecting anything in return.
Paula enters the library along with other staff members who are in on the surprise.
Paula: You mean so much to everybody. You really do. You're very kind, caring and big-hearted and we wanted to reward you with something special... on behalf of Pronto Insurance and Action 4 News, we would like to Pay it 4Ward. Here's $400!
Applause breaks out in the room.
It TMs a room that's clearly filled with love and support.
Mercedes begins to cry.
She calls this moment one of the best of her career, which includes 2 teacher of the year awards over her 17 years.
"I do it out of my heart and I do things for the kids because I love my kids," she said. "I don't do it for the reward."
Her reward is the new pre-paid Pronto MasterCard, as company spokesperson Domingo Reyna explains.
"We're proudly presenting to you this $400 Pronto pre-paid MasterCard that you can utilize anytime, reload and even open a savings account with," he said.
The staff at the elementary is more like family, according to Principal Martin Munoz.
He says honoring Mercedes' dedication on Action 4 News is a thrill for everyone.
"Clinton Elementary is very appreciative to the Pay it 4Ward program," he said. "She's an awesome teacher."
A teacher who credits her upbringing as the reason for always wanting to give back.
Her advice to others working with kids?
"Give 'em all your heart," she said. "The kids deserve it. Without the kids we're nothing."Click here to join Ryan Wolf TMs Facebook PageClick here to follow Ryan Wolf on TwitterClick here to nominate somebody for the Pay it 4Ward prize