Every year, deserving teachers are awarded for their outstanding role in quality education. The Esperanza Latino Teacher Awards focus on four educators in particular, and what's fun about the ceremony is that it's all a surprise.

"I wasn't expecting it when we were getting our morning started," said teacher Lupe Cota. "We were getting our intervention started when you guys opened the door what are these people doing here."

Dazzled by dozens of co-workers Cota, a longtime teacher at Stevenson Elementary School was touched to learn that she's a recipient of the 2017 Esperanza Latino Teacher Awards.

“She was talking about one out of four," Cota said. That's an honor, that is really an honor and that makes what I do every day more meaningful."

As a tradition, Chicanos Por La Causa, a nonprofit founded in 1969, notifies teachers like Cota, who are selected in a secret event that's carried out with students, staff and even the principal, Kathy Ray, who nominated her.

“I nominated her three times, so this is actually her fourth nomination," Ray said. "She's so deserving and she's an exemplar Latina teacher for her communities."

The organization is a statewide community development corporation that employs more than 600 people who look for people just like Cota, to award.

“Just making that connection with my students, and I think that's probably what’s putting me apart from other teachers," Cota said. "You know, I can relate to them."

These teachers don't just dictate the curriculum either; they guide and motivate many students to stick with and stay in school.

“I just want to make them proud. I want to be a good role model for them,” she added.

Cota said nothing brings her more joy than to join these kids daily and devote her life to education. The other recipients will be honored Friday and Monday for their continued efforts in education.