Port Allen Middle School teacher, Jessica Major, got the surprise of her life today when she was presented a $25,000 award for her outstanding achievement as an educator!

The Milken Educator Award has been dubbed the ‘Oscars of Teaching’ and it’s given to an educator who goes above and beyond to inspire those around them to be the best they can be.

Jessica’s coworker, Tammy Seneca, explains, “Jessica to me just embodies what a teacher today needs to be, she cares about the kids and she cares about the teachers as well and she wants to work with teachers to help the kids get better so I think that’s what she embodies, just the compassion for her job.”

To say Jessica was surprised would be a major understatement! She had no idea the school wide assembly was all about her! She exclaims, “I’m very overwhelmed but with excitement, this is one of probably the best career highlights of my life, I never would’ve imagined this would happen to me.”

Jessica’s students on the robotics team were in the dark too! They thought the assembly was set up for them to show off their latest gadget to their fellow students and community.

Kentae Williams explains, “It was very surprising because I didn’t expect her to be called up there and when I saw the amount of money, I was very happy for her.”

Karla Garcia couldn’t be happier her teacher won the award. She believes Jessica is, “a great teacher and she’s an inspiration to a lot of people and she’s very helpful around the school.”

Jessica says she couldn’t be the teacher she is today without the constant support of her family. She tells NBC33, “I hope they’re hiding somewhere at school, I hope they let them know because my family means everything to me. This is something I never would’ve thought, I’m sorry, I’m so happy to share this with them because they helped me get to where I’m at.”

Jessica wasn’t the only Louisiana educator to be presented the Milken Educator Award today. Plaquemine High School Principal Chandler Smith also joins the ranks of the outstanding. He too was completely surprised when Lowell Milken called his name and presented him with a $25,000 check! What will he spend his money on? He says, paying off his student loans to be debt free!