JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — A Meridian school teacher is given the Milken Educator award.

Magnolia Middle School math teacher Rhonda Burrage was surprised at a schoolwide assembly Tuesday. She was also awarded a $25,000 check.

Burrage was given the surprise of her life in front of her principal, colleagues, students, staff and community members.

Burrage is the state’s 70th Milken Award winner. She is the only Mississippi recipient in 2015-16 and one of up to 40 recipients across the country this school year.

“Middle school math can be a challenging subject both to teach and learn, but Rhonda is an exceptional instructor and students are known to thrive in her classroom,” said Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. “Her students are engaged through her innovative teaching strategies and use of technology. I’m confident she will continue growing as an exemplary Milken Educator and lead in the field of education for many years to come.”

Burrage has the reputation of being able to reach even the toughest students and get them to succeed in a school that has some significant challenges. She has not missed a day of teaching in four years.