FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO) -- A Fruita teacher has won a national award that has been likened to winning an "Oscar” for teaching.
The Milken Educator Award has been given to about 3,000 teachers across the country. Now, Felicia Casto, a math enrichment teacher at Rim Rock Elementary in Fruita, is joining that elite company.
Rim Rock Principal Sharon Kallus kept the award secret from Casto all the way up to the announcement Monday at a school-wide assembly. Kallus said Casto is a teacher who knows every student in the school by name.
"She deserves this award because she is so genuine, she finds one in thing in every kid and makes them feel special,” said Kallus.
Casto was helping get the students settled into their seats for the school-wide assembly when the award was announced.
"I was incredibly shocked I had no idea,” said Casto.
Principal Kallus said she wanted to show the students what type of person wins awards like this, with qualities such as leadership and excellence.
Casto hopes the award will spark other teachers at the school to put in just that much more effort.
"Through the struggle through the pain you have to go through as a teacher, those moments are just worth it,” said Casto.
Casto said it doesn't matter big or small school, rural or urban, teachers everywhere work hard because students are the future.
“I think important that teachers are recognized for their hard work,” said Casto. “This is incredible for our district and school and wishing teachers always work hard and do their best – it does pay off.”
Casto also won a $25,000 prize from the Milken Family Foundation with the award.
Teachers can use this money for whatever they want. It doesn't have to be spent for education or for the classroom.
Casto said she doesn't know what she plans to use the money on, just yet, but she looks forward to the whirlwind of experiences yet to come.