EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — An elementary school teacher in Eugene has been named Oregon’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, making her the first Bethel School District teacher to win since the award program started in 1955.

Nicole Butler-Hooten was honored by the Oregon Department of Education on Tuesday afternoon, The Register-Guard reported.

After 14 years working at Irving Elementary, the second grade teacher is described by district leaders as an organized, consistent teacher who leads with compassion and acceptance of students’ cultures. As a Siletz woman and member of the Apache Tribe who identifies strongly with her indigenous lineage, her teaching centers around equity and connecting with families.

Superintendent Chris Parra called her a “warm demander,” which he said is someone who has high expectations for students but pushes them with care.

Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill and Gov. Kate Brown crashed a Zoom staff meeting to surprise Butler-Hooten with the news.

“I just can’t wait to keep shining light on topics that are really important for creating more equitable outcomes for our students,” Butler-Hooten told the newspaper.

One teacher is selected for the honor each year from a pool of nominated teachers across the state. The program is sponsored by Education Department and the Oregon Lottery. Butler-Hooten will be awarded $5,000, and Irving Elementary also will be awarded $5,000.