Lonsdale Principal Spends Award on Community

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Most elementary school principals are big on education, but Lonsdale's principal proves she also has a big heart.

Principal Lisa Light threw a block party for her 200-plus students and their families this afternoon. She paid for the party with cash she won and could've just spent on herself.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has her incredible story of generosity.

Principal Light won a national award that recognized her as an educator of the year. That came with $25,000. So she decided to use some of the money to give her students something to smile about.

Friends, food, and some fancy footwork.

"We're having a block party," student Juana Francisco said.

Lonsdale fourth grader Juana Francisco and her 200-plus fellow students dropped in.

"To celebrate with my friends and have good time," student Arthur McAfee said.

At the brand spankin' new Lonsdale park. Their principal foot the bill.

"I won $25,000 from a National Milken Education award," principal Lisa Light said.

But she didn't just want to blow the money all on herself.

"I just wanted to be able to somehow touch everybody," Light said.

Because she says the award reflects everyone's hard work.

"I am a very minute part piece of what's gone on at Lonsdale Elementary School and it's really about the whole community coming together," Light said.

And they did - down slides, on swings and everything in between.

The park's just yards away from Lonsdale Elementary and is so new there's no grass yet, just this straw, but that didn't stop anyone from having a good time today.

"Today is one of the greatest days Lonsdale has seen in a really long time," James Allen from Lonsdale United for Change said.

James Allen is with Lonsdale United for Change, a group trying to turn around the area's heavy-crime image.

"Bring back Lonsdale as a whole for the kids of Lonsdale, for the citizens of Lonsdale and for everyone involved in this area," Allen said.

Exactly what Light says happened on this playground.

"All of us at Lonsdale want to let people know what kind of community we really do have here. Good things happen," Light said.

Her students say she makes those good things happen.

"She encourages us to do many things," McAfee said.

Encouragement today that just meant:

"Have Fun!" Francisco said.

Light says she's also using the money to pay for a summer family vacation to Florida.

She was one of three teachers recognized as outstanding educators in Tennessee. Only 83 teachers got the honor nationwide.

The mayor's office also declared today Lisa Light day in her honor.

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