PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It has been a tough school year for teachers, especially those that teach the youngest students. Trying to teach young children to read and write virtually is no small or easy task.

After all the stress from this past school year, Mrs. Breanne Martin, first-grade teacher at Canyon Springs STEM Academy, could not hold back the tears when she heard one of her students nominated her for a Silver Apple Award.

"She is an amazing teacher," exclaimed 6-year-old Zoja Borowski on the Zoom meeting before Mrs. Martin signed in. She nominated her teacher for the award, writing a sweet letter about Mrs. Martin.

Zoja, along with her fellow first-graders, and their principal, April Fraley, were all in on the surprise we set up for Mrs. Martin.

"She thinks she's coming in at 11 a.m. for a meeting with some district office people," Fraley said with a grin, as excited as the students for the surprise.

Once everyone was signed onto the Zoom meeting, Fraley allowed Mrs. Martin to sign in. Needless to say, Mrs. Martin was surprised to see all her students, instead of school district staff.

That is when we presented Mrs. Martin with the Silver Apple Award, virtually. And with that presentation, we kicked off a series of surprises for her.

All the students shared special messages they created, with love, for their teacher. They all made signs that said "Thank you" and "We love you."

"They're all so sweet. Thank you guys," said Mrs. Martin, still a little shocked, but taking it all in. "This has been an awesome class this year, especially this year with the year we've been having over Zoom. They've been so amazing."

Zoya then read the nomination letter she wrote to the Silver Apple Committee.

"My teacher is the best because she's such a doll to me. She's a doll because she's kind and sweet to me. She asks questions and listens good," read Zoya with enthusiasm. "She smiles with her eyes. Her eyes squint when I see her and she gives me a thumbs up. She keeps me safe and thinks I'm adorable, when we are on the computer and I’m in a costume. Every day she makes her class happy. And one day she dressed up too and made me happy too. This is why she's a doll to me. Love, Zoja."

When Zoja read her letter, Mrs. Martin shed a few tears of joy.

"Sometimes it's a thankless job," Mrs. Martin said, explaining her emotion. "So it's just really nice to know that you're appreciated for all the hard work you do.”

"My daughter's in the first-grade and I'm trying not to cry," said Chalise Jacobs, from Arizona Bank and Trust, who was on the Zoom as well to also say "thank you" in a big way.

"Congratulations! You are more than deserving. On behalf of Arizona Bank and Trust, we want to present you $1000,” said Jacobs.

Humbled by the recognition, Mrs. Martin said, "This job is definitely a hard job. So to know that I'm making an impact on my students and how they feel about me, definitely makes my job worthwhile. I enjoy what I do every day."

Click here to nominate your favorite teacher.


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