In a scene being played out in 1,000 classrooms across the country, Kira Fischler, an English language teacher at Carver Elementary School in Maplewood, got a surprise visit Tuesday that included $1,000 in classroom supplies.

Principal Isis Buchanan nominated Fischler for an "A Day Made Better" award -- an honor inspired in part by the ways teachers often use their own money to buy back-to-school materials.

"I'm overwhelmed," Fischler said Tuesday after being presented with a leather chair and a large box containing pens, notebooks, a camera and a Kindle Fire tablet. "It's pretty amazing."

She said that the pens and notebooks would come in handy for English Language Learner students who sometimes need classroom essentials. She had considered buying a tablet, she added, to take advantage of applications available to aid teaching.

Randy Thury, who manages an OfficeMax store in Cottage Grove, presented her with the box during a brief ceremony. Then, students rushed to peer inside it, with one exclaiming: "You're so lucky."

Buchanan, the principal, is in her first year at Carver Elementary, and knows of surprise honors herself. She received a $25,000 Milken National Educator Award in 2006 while teaching in St. Paul.

In her nomination letter, Buchanan wrote that Fischler helped her in her move to Carver and had volunteered her time on a school leadership team that met several times in the summer.

"She does this because she cares and knows the work needs to be done," Buchanan said.

A Day Made Better is a joint effort between OfficeMax and