JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Jersey City science teacher has been honored with what’s been labeled the Oscars of Teaching.
Students and faculty at PS-28 Christa McAuliffe School packed into the auditorium for what they were told was a college seminar.
But instead, a representative from the Milken Family Foundation surprised eighth grade teacher Robert O’Donnell with the recognition.
“We go all over the country to find the best,” Dr. Jane Foley with the Milken Family Foundation said at the assembly on Wednesday. “You don’t find us, we find you.”
O’Donnell was honored with the state’s only Milken Educator Award. The foundation hands out up to 40 awards each year.
“It’s humbling. I was up there shaking a little bit,” O’Donnell said. ”Very much appreciated but definitely not expected.”
The science teacher gets a $25,000 gift.
O’Donnell has worked with students to rehabilitate the Pershing Field Reservoir.
“I give them a hands-on approach to science and try to instill that love and appreciation within them,” he said.
Students said they weren’t surprised O’Donnell won the prestigious award.
“Mr. O’Donnell is really generous,” eighth grader Gianna Flores told Putney. “I think he’s cool, I think he’s awesome, I think he’s amazing, I think he’s everything.”
“He’s like a father I would say to us,” another student told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
“I felt there’s no other one that it could’ve been,” a student added.
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