LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - With a broom in one hand and a coach's whistle in another at Tomlinson Middle School, James Suttles is being honored for his years of work. Suttles was named the first-ever Oklahoma Education Support Professional of the Year. He will soon be heading to the national conference and possibly win the national title.
Energy and encouragement and some jokes is the way Suttles helps his students.
"I have fun every day," Suttles said. "Every day I come here and I get to coaching. I have fun, man. I love the high fives. I love the smiles."
But he also brings discipline. Something his students he coaches can agree with.
"I mean he used to yell at me all the time just like his does now. He's always yelling, but I learn everything by him," Jamel Graves, TMS 8th grade said.
"I can hear him in the back of my head if I'm doing wrong. He'll be like hey! No Bre," Breonest Huffman, 8th grade said.
Suttles said he has never won an award like the Oklahoma Education Support Professional of the year.
"The only awards I've ever won is basketball," Suttles said. "I got a lot of trophies and medals!"
Suttles has helped generations of students. His motivation? His 2-year-old son who died in a car crash.
He says he sees his son in every student.
"When I lost my son in 1989, everything changed. Everything," Suttles said. "I decided to help out kids. So when I got into the school system I felt like okay, I'm home now. It's been a true blessing. I miss my son."
Suttles said he doesn't talk about his son a lot. When he is in 'coach mode,' he is there for the students.
Now, he is just looking toward the future.
"I still have a long way to go to retire so I'm going to enjoy this because I know one day it's going to end," Suttles said. "I just don't want to leave no kids back at the time that I am on this earth. I know it's going to end. I just want to do my part."
The national conference is March 23rd, and Lawton Public Schools will be cheering for Suttles to win the national support professional of the year!