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Meraux, La. (WGNO) – Third-grade teacher Catherine Randall went to work this morning (Oct. 24) at Joseph J. Davies Elementary not knowing she would leave $25,000 richer.

Randall received the Milken Educator Award, a national award given to exceptional teachers. And it was a secret until the big reveal in the school’s gym.

“I had no idea! This was a surprise to me,” she told the gym full of students, teachers, administrators, and St. Bernard Parish leaders. “You’re only as good as the team you are a part of. And I believe that I am who I am because of my team, because of my school, because of the leaders on the district level.”

Along with the prestige of winning the national award, she also gets $25,000 dollars with no strings attached.

The Milken Educator Award, created by the Milken Family Foundation, has no formal nomination process. Over the past 30 years, the foundation has given out $68 million in individual awards to deserving teachers.

The Milken Foundation gave several reasons why Randall deserved the award:

  • According to the 2015 PARCC, 100% of her third graders reached Advanced or Mastery in math and 97% in reading.
  • She willingly takes on student teachers and acts as an example for other teachers.
  • She keeps students engaged with a variety of teaching methods.
  • She teaches the whole child and is a master at capturing teachable moments.
  • She lost her home after Hurricane Katrina but quickly got back in the classroom to help St. Bernard Parish students.

Randall is one of 35 educators who will receive the Milken Educator Award for the 2016-2017 school year.