SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — When a Sevier County Schools teacher walked into her school's gym on Tuesday, she thought it was for a routine meeting. Instead, she and several educators gathered to hand her $25,000.
She was the winner of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities' "Extreme Classroom Makeover" program. Through the program, the ORAU selects teachers who teach third-grade through tenth-grade math or science, within a 50-mile radius of Oak Ridge, to get a big surprise.
The money is used for new classroom technology and is meant to help improve STEM education in public schools. The program launched in 2008 and played off the "home makeover" style of shows that were trendy at the time.
"Some schools do not have the budgets to keep pace with changing technology," ORAU said about the program. "Keeping up with current demands seems like a luxury."
This year's winner went to Stacey Whaley who teaches at Northview Primary School.
"I have never been so surprised in my life," she said. "I had no idea that this is what we were coming in here for, it's the most amazing surprise. I cannot describe it with words."
Officials with the school said they planned to reveal the new technology and the renovated classroom in August.