A Connecticut elementary school principal got the surprise of his life when Thursday's assembly turned out to be a setup honoring him with a prestigious national award.
Metacomet Elementary School Principal Desi Nesmith expected to talk about the achievement gap. Instead, he was presented with the $25,000 Milken Educator Award.
It was a moment that moved the Bloomfield educator to tears.
"I'm overwhelmed and so pleased to represent Metacomet and the school I went to, and the town I grew up in, and to have this national award and attention here," Nesmith said. "It's a blessing."
Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, said the honor is "so prestigious that it's called the Oscars of teaching."
When she called Nesmith's name, it was clear the news came as a shock. The crowd went wild and there was not a dry eye in the gym.
"It's a lot of money. It's a really big deal for him," said fourth-grade student Cyahna Mckenzie Dunn.
Nesmith can use the money toward anything he wants.
His mentor, Leon McKinley, said no one deserves it more.
"When I first hired him, I knew immediately he cares about kids and would work his tail off," McKinley said.
State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said Nesmith "has a strong track record of leading his school team in improving student performance and closing the achievement gap."
Bloomfield Supt. James Thompson, Jr. and other officials were on hand during the surprise.