LAVEEN, Ariz.- When Timothy Thomas came to be a principal at Rogers Ranch Elementary, he knew he had a tough job on his hands, a Title I school with a predominantly minority base of students in Laveen.

Four years later, his school is now performing better, less turnaround with faculty and staff, and kids are scoring higher in their grades and on tests.

"I'm just the steerer of this ship," Mr. Thomas says, "my staff is what powers it."

His staff is exactly what led him to win the "Oscars of Teachers" award, also known as the Milken Educator Award, in an assembly which Mr. Thomas put together, unknowingly so, for his own award.

At the assembly, students had no idea what was about to happen. Staff also thought they were all there to hear Diane Douglas speak on STEM programs in which Rogers Ranch is proud to take part in.

Super Intendant Diane Douglas speaks with Tim Thomas, principal at Rogers Ranch Elementary in Laveen. Feb. 15, 2017 (Photo: JR Cardenas/12News)

A few minutes later, they announce the winner of this prestigious award, Mr. Thomas sighed in disbelief.

In Arizona, Mr. Thomas is the only recipient and across the nation he is one of 35 other honorees, which includes a $25,000 check, non-restricted, for the winner to use as they please. Winners do not get nominated, they are picked by the organization that recognizes them.

"We will celebrate, as a school, and with my staff, I don't know what I am going to do with the money, I do know that the students and staff will celebrate with me soon," Mr. Thomas, this week's A+ Teacher, said.