YORKTOWN, Va. — Kelley Payne has been teaching at Tabb Middle School for 20 years and said she was delightfully surprised by the Virginia Lottery and Virginia PTA Tuesday.
After students at Tabb Middle School wrote 'thank you' postcards, numbers on the back of the cards were submitted for the lottery to choose a teacher for a free Virginia-based vacation and $5,000 of cred for school supplies from The Supply Room.
"This is very exciting," said Payne, holding the big check. "I'm just really appreciative for all of this. I mean, the whole process of having the kids write the postcards and giving them to all the teachers. Just getting that feedback is helpful."
Payne's sixth-grade students are appreciative in return, saying their teacher deserves this type of recognition after working hard during the pandemic struggles in education.
"She's really nice and she always helps us whenever we need help," said her student, Tyler Maddock.
"If we ever got stressed out, she's always comes to us and lifting us up," said her other student, Rilee Sieg.
Out of 4,000 entries from the Virginia Lottery's "Thank a Teacher" campaign, two teachers were chosen, including Payne. The long-time educator who loves her students said this wasn't the first time she felt like she won the lottery.
"I really love working with kids. They're a lot of fun," said Payne. "Every day is different. Even though I come in and do kind of the same thing every day, it's always a surprise of how things are going to work out and they kind of keep things fresh."
First Lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam, was also there to help present the check. She said she was honored to present a prize like this to teachers in Hampton Roads who worked hard this past year.
The Virginia Lottery gave Payne two different types of vacations to choose from and she said she's looking forward to making the most of it.