LAYTON, Utah (ABC4) – A teacher at Sand Springs Elementary was recognized for her hard work and dedication with a $10,000 award in a surprise assembly Friday.

According to the Davis Education Foundation, Sand Springs Elementary kindergarten teacher, RaeAnn Shelley, was surprised with the Heidi Martin Mighty Educator of Excellence Award during a surprise assembly.

According to a news release, the award grants $10,000 to be given to Sand Springs Elementary to be spent at Shelley’s discretion “For the betterment of the school.” She was also given a crystal award and a basket of gifts to celebrate her hard work and dedication.

Below are some photos of Shelley receiving the award during a surprise assembly:

The award “Recognizes an educator who has gone above and beyond in efforts to teach, model, inspire, build confidence in students and create contributing members of society,” according to the Davis Education Foundation

The Heidi Martin Mighty Heart Educator of Excellence Award is named after Heidi Ann Martin, a Utah resident who was born with only 2 chambers in her heart. Martin underwent her first open-heart surgery at just 3 days old and had a heart and liver transplant in 2017 at age 24.

Martin passed away in January of 2017 due to health complications caused by her condition. The award was then organized in Martin’s name by an anonymous donor, a release said.

The Davis Education Foundation said this about Shelley receiving the award:

“Miss Shelley exemplifies everything that this award stands for. To say that she is invested in the
success of her students would be an extreme understatement. Shelley recognizes the importance
of innovation and project-based learning. She is constantly finding ways to bring in new
materials and units for the science exploration center she created in her classroom; a center that
helps student engage with technology and increases creativity.”

Sand Springs Elementary Principal Kimberly Johnston describes Shelley as having “the heart of a champion”, a news release said.

Before she started teaching at Sand Springs Elementary, the 2021 award recipient, RaeAnn Shelley, spent time teaching and helping children in Honduras, later going on to be a foster mother for two Honduran teenage girls.

A parent of a student in Shelley’s class says, “Miss Shelley takes the time to notice the littlest things about a child and then uses what she observes to help them be successful.”