MADISON, Ala. - Sixth grade science teacher Amara Alexander didn't know her school day would include the surprise of a lifetime plus $25,000 to her name. But, as representatives from the Milken Family Foundation gathered the Horizon Elementary's student body, teachers, staff, city, county and state leaders together for an assembly, it became clear.
"I am in shock," Alexander said. "Very surprised, ecstatic, just very humbled and gracious that the Milken Foundation thought that I was a superb enough teacher to receive one of these prestigious awards."
One person wasn't nearly as surprised, though. Ms. Alexanders' mother, Tammy, has experience with this award herself.
"I was in the very first class of Milken Educators in 1998 in the state of Alabama," Tammy Alexander said as she surprised her daughter. "It gives me great pleasure to say that I am the mother of Ms. Alexander and I'd like to welcome you to Milken Educators."
Dr. Jane Foley, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President, presented Amara Alexander with the national honor, and was joined by Alabama State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance and Madison Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler.
Alexander will soon enjoy a trip to New Orleans, all expenses paid, along with her prize money. She is one of up to 35 teachers the foundation will honor with the Milken Educator Awards in 2016-2017 across the country, and the only one in Alabama.
Her mother said Alexander's passion did not start in a classroom, rather at home.
"She is a natural teacher," Alexander said. "She wanted to teach before I got into education."
Alexander invites her mother to teach with her every Earth Day.
Amara Alexander is a graduate of Alabama A&M University. She earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in elementary education in 2007 and 2010, respectively.