Most teachers don't show up for work expecting to be handed $25,000.
Neither did Angela Harvala, a fifth-grade teacher in Princeton. But that's exactly what happened Thursday.
In a surprise ceremony, Harvala was awarded the National Milken Educator Award, a prize frequently referred to as the "Oscars for Teachers." With it, comes a $25,000 cash prize and acknowledgement that she's one of the best teachers in the nation.
"We have so many amazing teachers here it would be nice to recognize each one of them because they work so hard," Harvala said as she accepted the award.
A self-described "data geek", Harvala was singled out for the prize due to her commitment to trying to individualizing education by gathering information about each of her students, and knowing their learning preferences and their home life.
At Princeton's North Elementary, she developed a "Catch Up Club" where students can get assistance with completing assignments on time. She also leads a girls iEmpower group after school.
"Angela exemplifies the dedication and commitment that teachers bring to their classrooms every day in Minnesota," said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. "It is an honor for me to be a part of honoring Angela’s remarkable achievements as a world-class educator, and to acknowledge the positive impact she has on her students."
Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Awards have no formal nomination or application process. Instead, teachers are nominated by a panel appointed by each state's department of education.
Since its inception in 1987, 43 Minnesota educators have been awarded the prize.
You can see Harvala's reaction here.