FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Sunnyside High School, the student body is proud of who they are and what they represent. It's the motto on campus.
But Tuesday, an unfamiliar face from a foundation based out of Southern California, joined them with some exciting news.
"One of the best teachers in the entire country is here in your school," said Dr. Jane Foley with Milken Foundation.
The prestigious award, dubbed the Oscars of teaching, is only given to 40 teachers nationwide each year.
Katie McQuone had no idea she won the award. She sat in the bleachers, like everyone else, clapping but clueless until the big reveal.
"The Milken Educator Award goes to Katie McQuone."
For a minute, she couldn't even believe it herself.
"The last time I was in the gym like this, I got proposed to and so there was cameras there for that and I was sitting in that same spot," she said. "And here it felt exactly the same being surprised in front of all the students."
The Milken Foundation searches the nation, seeking out teachers who are standouts without ever letting them know they are being considered for the top honor.
McQuone didn't have any prepared remarks but said she hopes to inspire her students and prepare them for life at the very same school she graduated from herself.
"It's really exciting to come here and now work here with the kids and show them that you can be from southeast Fresno and love your job and enjoy what you do and have fun and win awards!" she said.
The $25,000 reward can be spent on anything McQuone wants, but one thing definitely came to mind right away.
"Pay off my student loans!! Yeah!! And maybe go on a vacation because I love to travel," she said.
McQuone's excellent work in her broadcasting and video production academy has also earned her the chance to attend a prestigious conference next year to network and share ideas with state and federal leaders about the future of education.
Sunnyside HS teacher awarded $25k, recognized as top educator in nation
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