A St. Paul teacher received the $25,000 Milken Educator Award in a surprise ceremony Friday, the Pioneer Press reported.
Stephen Abenth, 37, teaches 4th grade and directs the choir at St. Paul's Highland Park Elementary School, the Star Tribune reported. Several people received the award this year, but Abenth was the only recipient in Minnesota.
The award is typically given as a surprise, the Star Tribune reported. Abenth said he was asked to prepare choir students for an assembly recognizing student achievement.
The Milken awards are known as "the Oscars of teaching," the Star Tribune reported. Recipients are in their early- to mid-career, and many go on to become administrators.
According to the Star Tribune, Abenth said he will use the money to pursue a master's degree in education technology. He has already done work with technology at Highland Park Elementary -- according to the Pioneer Press, he created a data-tracking system to identify student achievement gaps.
Among the attendees at Friday's assembly were U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, the Star Tribune reported.