CHICAGO (WLS) -- For the first time in 13 years, a Chicago Public Schools teacher was chosen for the Milken Educator Award, often described as the "Oscars of teaching."
Students at Edgar Allan Poe Classical Elementary gathered for what they thought was a Friday assembly to celebrate their exemplary school designation, ranking within the top 10% of the entire state of Illinois.
But what they, nor any of the staff, knew was a major surprise was in store for one special teacher: Sixth grade English and math teacher Ms. Comfort Agboola would soon be chosen for the national Milken Educator Award.
"We are so honored and so proud of you. And we're so proud of the work you're doing to support the students here at Poe Elementary School," said Dr. Tony Standers, state superintendent of education.
The prestigious honor is awarded to dozens of teachers across the nation, who model excellence in teaching. And this year, Ms. Agboola is the only recipient in the state of Illinois.
"Just as I teach you, you have taught me so much. I am very grateful to be your teacher. I am grateful to your parents for lending you to me," she told her students.
Amid the thundering cheer and applause, the foundation also presented her a check for $25,000.
"I wasn't expecting this at all," Agboola said. "I'm just in awe. I come from a family of educators, so this is for all of them, this is for my colleagues. This is for my students. I just feel really blessed."
Her unique ability to make every student feel seen, heard and valued, the principal says, that makes her so special.
"She means a lot to me, because at first in quarantine, my grades were on a downfall, I wasn't really paying attention and stuff," said 8th grader Calvin Humphrey. "I wasn't really doing my work, but Ms. A really helped me with my grades."
"I just feel more determined to do more in the classroom," Agboola said.