SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) --Sixth-grade teacher Lindsay Yee thought she was attending a regular assembly at Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana on Monday.
Instead, the school gathering turned into a surprise party honoring Yee for her dedication to students over the years.
ABC7's Pay It Forward campaign teamed up with the Honda Helpful Dealers to honor Yee for Teacher Appreciation Week.
"She deserves this recognition," said school Principal Lisa Solomon, who nominated Yee for the award. "She goes through life so humbly."
Yee was presented with a room full of new school supplies and funds for field trips. Her parents were also flown in from San Francisco as part of the surprise.
Solomon said Yee consistently goes above and beyond her job duties: mentoring students for years after they graduate, running family math nights and science academies on Saturdays and paying for much of it out of her own pocket.
"This teacher was picked out of thousands of entries," said Tami Horetski with the SoCal Honda Dealers. "We just thought she was really deserving."
Parents and students from the past also returned to the school to embrace Yee on stage.
"She's been through my ups and downs," said Luz Maldonado, now a freshman at Cal State Fullerton. "She's part of the family."
Yee was grateful for the honor, but noted that she teaches and works with such dedication not for the recognition, but because she loves all her students.
"I teach because I feel like I'm making a difference - and honestly, by the love and the support that's here, it's validated," Yee said.