MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Christy Cuddy is not a rock star, but she's sure treated like one by students at Mesa's Highland Arts Elementary School.
"The best part of being a principal is being around the kids," said Cuddy. "The kids give me energy every day. They help me realize what I'm doing is changing the world."
CBS5 News caught up with the East Valley educator on Student of the Month day.
Teachers in every class nominate one child, who's done something special, worked hard and treated others with respect. They're invited to sit down and have lunch with Mrs. Cuddy. "Sometimes it's just connecting with a kid," said Cuddy. "Just knowing they're special and they're special to someone."
Krista Puruhito has a first grader here and has seen firsthand how Mrs. Cuddy connects with kids. But, she insists, this principal does even more behind the scenes., like sponsoring kids who cant afford to go on field trips, buying gift cards for teachers and giving staff members in need money to buy clothes for special events or interviews.
"I don't feel like its above and beyond," said Cuddy. "That's the thing. It's my job, but it's also who I am."
So, Puruhito reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to Mrs. Cuddy and thank her for all she does. Our news camera followed along, right into the cafeteria, for the big surprise.
"You contribute so much to Highland Arts community, you give back your time and your money to students and staff," said Puruhito. "You help the community when there are personal needs as well. So,on behalf of the Highland Arts community and Channel 5, I'd like to Pay it Forward to you. I have $500 that I'd like to give you. Thank you for everything you do for Highland Arts Community."
"She just gives and gives and gives and I wanted her to know that its recognized and noticed and that the community appreciates it," said Puruhito.
"It's my job as leader to show the way, and if someone needs help I want to help," said Cuddy.
"I really feel like she goes above and beyond," said Puruhito.