PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local teacher received quite the surprise today when she was honored with one of the most prestigious education awards in the nation.
Teachers and students at University Park Elementary in the Gateway School District packed the gym for what they thought was a holiday assembly.
After a couple of songs performed by Gateway High School band members and some introductions the surprise was revealed that the assembly was all to honor first grade teacher Jennifer Hoffner.
Hoffner, who has been teaching at the school for eight years, said stunned doesn’t even begin to describe what went through her mind when her name was announced.
“I’m just overwhelmed with joy right now because I love what I do, love my kids, love this school, love this district,” Hoffner said.
The Milken Family Foundation hands out educator awards each year to teachers who go above and beyond.
Educators can’t apply and the foundation searches for the winners that represent the top 1 percent in the profession.
“Her students in first grade are achieving at extraordinary high levels, She is also a leader, she is on district committees, she is on school committees, she is helping beyond the classroom to have leadership impact in her profession. She is an unsung hero,” Jane Foley of the Milken Family Foundation said.
Only 40 top teachers all across the country will receive this award this year. Hoffner said it’s not just about her, but all the teachers in the building.
“It’s not just one person who educates kids, it takes an entire building. It takes a community and we are a very united group here at University Park,” Hoffner said.
In addition to the recognition, Hoffner received $25,000 to use at her discretion.