Lakewood, Wash. — Jennie Pegouskie Bentot has come a long way since her days as a shy 7th grade transfer to Lakewood's Woodbrook Middle School. For one thing, she just played Ed Sheeren’s love interest in his “Shape Of You” music video, seen more than three and a half billion times on YouTube.
But this professional model and dancer has returned to her old school to surprise a special teacher.
“He was like the pillar for me, as a 12-year-old girl, who encouraged me to make new friends, go out for sports, stay active in the P-E class, meet people which and I came here to thank him for all that.
She sat in the back of the gym with the other students when P-E teacher Bernie Bryant walked in. Since 1999, every one of Mr. Bryant's classes has started with running laps and this is no different.
Until about five laps in, when Bryant stops dead in his track.
“Jennie! What are you doing here? Oh my God!”
“I came to say thank you,” she said.
“For what?” he asked.
“I came to say thank you for helping me become the person that I am today," she said. "Through activity. Through your classes. It's something that I will never forget.”
“Her words were so kind,” said Bryant who has followed his former student's career. “All the things she talked about are things I try to instill in all of my students, as far as working together and social interaction, perseverance and yeah it was really cool to think that those things stuck with her all this time.”
“I almost cried,” said Bentot. “Did you see me? I almost cried. I adore him, I adore his family. He's definitely not somebody I will ever forget."
Bentot has teamed up with Nike for its “Made To Play” campaign. Today's generation of kids is the least active in history so she is challenging young people to post videos or pictures of themselves being active for 60 seconds.