LINCOLN, N.D. (KXNET) — A big surprise happened to a teacher in Lincoln on Thursday morning.

Students and teachers packed the gym at Lincoln Elementary as Alyssa Merriman was named the winner of the Teacher Spotlight award.

Merriman has taught fourth grade at the school for 10 years. She was nominated for the award by fellow teachers as well as parents for the impact she’s had on her kids over the years.

“This is my home away from home. Teaching is my passion. It’s also my hobby, it’s what I love to do while I’m at work and at home and I just love kids,” Merriman said.

The teacher’s gift includes flowers, a cake as well as over a thousand dollars that Alyssa is required to spend on herself.