Until 9am, it was just a normal Tuesday morning for Gaithersburg Middle School teacher Madeline Hanington.
But at an all-school assembly this morning in front of the principal, County Schools Superintendent, Gaithersburg Mayor, State Superintendent of Schools and Maryland Lt. Governor, Hanington was given the surprise of a lifetime.
Hanington had no idea she'd even been nominated.
The Milken Educator Award is a national recognition that is sometimes called the Grammys or Oscars of education. There is no nominating process—the Foundation finds the educators they want to honor.
This year, Hanington is the only teacher in Maryland to receive the award.
In the 25 years the award has been given out, 2,500 educators have been honored, and over $63 million in prize money has been given out.
Hanington was sitting in the front row of the gym bleachers in a sea of middle school students when she heard the news.
Dr. Jane Foley, the Foundation's Senior Vice President in charge of the Milken Awards, said she had flown 2,700 miles from California just to be at the school today.
The students burst into loud cheers and screams when Folen announced Hanington's name, and Hanington began to cry.
"Hangington was not only recognized for the outstanding achievement of her students, but also for her innovative teaching methods, her leadership in the school community and her efforts to engage and involve parents," according to an Montgomery County Public Schools press release.
Lt. Governor Anthony Brown thanked Hanington for a "job well done."
"You inspire your students, no doubt, each and every day, coming to school ready to unlock their talents, their gifts as human beings," he said. "You are a role model for other teachers, not only in this school, not only in this county, but throughout the state of Maryland."
Harington said she was fighting back tears as she accepted the award.
"I don't even know what to say, and that's hard for me because I always have something to say," she said. "I am so blessed to be here at Gaithersburg Middle School and be part of this family. I have a great team to work with, great administrators and great teachers. But most importantly, I love these kids."
Hanington has been an English teacher at the school for 10 years.