We’re not crying, you’re crying! JJ Watt headed back to his old elementary school in Wisconsin to celebrate someone very special to him: his fourth-grade teacher, Judy Keefe.
In a Facebook Live video posted Monday, April 3, the Houston Texans defensive end explained that Keefe is retiring this year after more than four decades as an educator. She was the one, he told his Facebook followers, who encouraged him to follow his dreams of playing in the NFL.
“My fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Keefe, who’s been teaching for 41 years, who’s one of my favorite teachers of all time, who happens to be the teacher who told me that I could play for the Wisconsin Badgers, told me I could play in the NFL — she is one of the biggest inspirations for me, she’s unbelievable,” he began.
“She’s retiring this year after 41 years, so she’s in class today … and we’re gonna go surprise her,” he continued. “We brought her a cake, we’re gonna give her some shoes, we’re gonna take her down to Houston for the Charity Classic softball game.”
Watt then revealed the cake: a fondant apple and pencil atop a stack of math and reading books, next to a pencil cup and a miniature chalkboard with the words “School’s Out Forever.”
He and some of the school administrators then surprised Keefe in her classroom with an impromptu retirement party. “I’d like to introduce you to JJ Watt, as if you don’t know him,” she told her current students. “Remember, when he was your age, he looked up at me with those baby blues. And what he said to me — he said, ‘I want to be a Badger.’ … Look where he is now. You can do whatever you want to do.”
Keefe later spoke to the Today show about the NFL star. “He was always a positive role model. He was a great student,” she said of Watt. “I was very honored by him and my colleagues. It is a joy to continue to work for him and his foundation.”