WASHINGTON (WNEW) — It’s been called the “Oscars of teaching,” and on Thursday, a D.C. public school teacher was this year’s first recipient of the Milken Educator Award.

Students and staff at Seaton Elementary School cheered as Michelle Johnson received the award. She’s one of 40 teachers who will get the award nationwide. It includes a $25,000 cash prize.

The Milken Family Foundation surprised her during an assembly Thursday morning.

“I’m a teacher because I think that instilling a love of learning in students is going to change the whole world,” Johnson says.

After the award presentation, her second-graders swarmed around her for a group hug. They explained that Ms. Johnson doesn’t mind if they get things wrong sometimes.

“And if we make a mistake, that means our brain is growing,” one student said.

It must be working — 90 percent of her students showed proficiency or improvement last year.

WNEW D.C. Bureau Chief Matt DelSignore contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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