WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A D.C. teacher is $25,000 richer. Kena Allison was surprised at a school-wide assembly Thursday morning with the Milken Educator Award for her commitment to teaching science.
Students and staff at Thurgood Marshall Academy went wild as Allison was presented with the award.
She said, “All the teachers at Thurgood Marshall are as deserving as I am… I thank you very much.”
After attending medical school for a year, Allison decided to become a teacher instead. Now, she is one of just 40 educators honored this year with the so-called "Oscars for teaching."
Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken said, “She will change the lives of thousands and thousands of children. And it's a symbol to the 3 million people in the education profession that their career choice is validated and there's great opportunities in this country.”
Leading up to this assembly, only the academy's executive director knew what was coming. “I have been lying to everybody for three weeks,” said Alexandra Pardo.
According to administrators, Allison's physics class is the number one course requested by seniors and she is the reason alumni come back to visit.
Pardo said, “They come back and say, ‘I signed up for physics as a freshman in college because of Miss Allison's class.’”
Current students also said Allison changed the way they think about school.
Thurgood Marshall senior Abria Williams said, “I don't really like sciences but she makes it fun…a lot of it's hands-on, like a lot of the activities we do.”
Allison has even inspired some students to pursue careers in science.
Senior Tyree Price, said, “If sports don't work out, then my dream job would be like engineering or something.”
How does Allison plan to spend that $25,000 prize? To start, she said she plans to take her co-workers out to dinner. And after a year of medical school, she has some student loans to pay off.