BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - One Lowcountry teacher received one of the most prestigious educator awards in the country on Thursday, along with a check for $25,000.
The announcement at Bluffton High School was as quick as it was unexpected. Erin Reichert was expecting to be out of the classroom but had no idea it'd be for this reason.
"I thought we were just going to an assembly for the state superintendent to recognize some things about our school," Reichert said.
Instead, it was Reichert who was recognized with one of the biggest honors in the country - the Milken Educator Award. It's considered the Oscars of teaching.
"This award has been given for over 30 years and it is one of the most sought-after awards. It is not an award a teacher can apply for," said Molly Spearman, South Carolina Superintendent of Education.
The Milken Foundation selects up to 45 winners nationally. They look for the passion and commitment Reichert shows in the classroom and beyond.
"When students get excited, that makes me excited," she said. "When they want to go further, I will work behind the scenes to make that happen. When they want to go to conferences, I will be exhausted tired, but I will get them there."
The Social Studies teacher tries to make lessons memorable by making a connection with her students.
"When I'm in the classroom, I'm really honestly my truest person, and when I'm teaching, the kids get to know me," Reichert said. "I don't hide it from them. I'm very transparent and I'm very honest with them."
"These teachers take time to build young people, to build character and skills," Spearman said.
While Reichert will receive $25,000 to use as she pleases, she is more than excited about the resources the Milken Foundation that she will now be able to access for her school.
"I teach Government, and I'm a part of youth in government, so I kind of know that it's really great to have access to networks, and it's really great to know different people around the state, around the country. I think that's what I'm looking forward to the most," Reichert said.
As a Milken winner, Reichert is now invited to join the network of stakeholders and other Milken teachers who help impact education at the local, state, and national levels.