One teacher gets the surprise of a lifetime

Published: Dec. 11, 2018 at 5:34 PM EST
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"I was holding my phone and then they said my name and I kind of just put my phone down and was like 'wait what,'" said Jennifer Reaves, the Milken Educator Award recipient and technology integration specialist at Mylan Park Elementary.

Reaves's day started out like any normal day. Walking into Mylan Park Elementary to teach her students valuable technology skills and tricks.

This day will forever hold a special place in not only her heart, but in her career as an educator.

"I am extremely proud of Mrs. Reaves and I truly appreciate her dedication," said Anne Lupo, Principal of Mylan Park Elementary.

For over 30 years, The Milken Educator Awards, also known as the 'Oscars of Teaching,' has celebrated teachers who are few and far between.

Mrs. Reaves is the only award winner in the state and was given $25,000 to use on whatever she pleases.

"I truly believe in West Virginia and in our kids. It means a lot to be recognized by the state. This just means so much," said Reaves.

Mrs. Reaves used to teach second grade, but when she was asked to be a full-time technology integration specialist at the school she couldn't pass it up.

"She finally just said 'Jen you're doing some really cool stuff in your classroom with these 24 kids, but if you took this position you could make a difference in all 500 of our kids," said Reaves.

For Mrs. Reaves, the students, and the faculty it was a complete surprise who's name was going to be called.

Although some of her students say when they were talking about how someone gets chosen for this award, she was who they thought was most deserving.

"We all had a guess it was her," said a group of her students.

Her passion not only reflects on her students, but it's also making a difference.

"What she's done to us, makes me want to have her job. My dream job is her job," said Katy Galusky, one of Mrs. Reaves's fifth-grade students.

"Just getting them excited about it, so that when they get to middle and high school that maybe they want to pursue this. I truly believe that this could be a game changer for our state and helping to move our state forward," said Reaves.

"We're really, really proud of her," said Lupo.

"Congratulations Mrs. Reaves," said her students.

The Milken Educator Award alternates yearly between elementary and secondary educators.

Teachers can't apply for this recognition and they don't even know they're under consideration.

Among her many accomplishments, Mrs. Reaves started a school-wide "Hour of Code" event, she created the "Code Like a Girl Club" to motive girls to pursue computer science and she hosts a fifth-grade technology club.