Hundreds of students at Southeast Washington’s Anne Beers Elementary School gathered Wednesday morning for what they believed was an event to honor their hard work and impressive academic achievement.
That was partly true. But there was another reason for the assembly: The surprise presentation of a $25,000 cash prize to unsuspecting third-grade teacher Jacqueline Simms, who collapsed tearfully into a colleague’s arms upon hearing the news.
“I don’t know what to think. I feel like I’m getting an Oscar,” Simms said. “Since I was little, I always wanted to teach.”
The happy ambush came courtesy of former financier Michael Milken and the Milken Family Foundation, which since 1987 has handed out more than 2,500 such awards to outstanding educators across the country.
The goal, Milken said Wednesday at Anne Beers, is to send a message that great teachers deserve the kind of recognition that our country is more likely to heap on star athletes and A-list entertainers.