BELLFLOWER, Calif. (KABC) -- Joined by local and state leaders, Washington Elementary celebrated its recognition as a California Gold Ribbon School.
Unbeknownst to kindergarten teacher Katherine Shaw, the ceremony would include a surprise as she received the coveted Milken Educator Award, a first in the Bellflower Unified School District.
The award includes $25,000 and will be given to 35 educators nationwide this year.
"This is overwhelming, beyond anything I could have ever, ever imagined," Shaw said.
She began her career at Washington Elementary 16 years ago.
As an English language learner, Shaw said she understands many of the children in the largely Latino school
"My goal is to get them to be successful in reading and writing," she shared.
The wife and mother of two credits her family for supporting her, calling her mother a motivator who encouraged her through college.
Shaw, who also mentors first-year teachers, said being an educator is not only her job but her passion.
"I don't think we do it for the thank you," she said. "I think we definitely do it for our future, our students, our future leaders."
Bellflower teacher honored with surprise award and $25,000