GOODYEAR, Ariz. — A Goodyear school is celebrating after recently getting awarded a huge check. Get this - $50,000!

“They mentioned our name and I think initially for like a couple seconds we were like in somewhat of a shock and then it’s like oh, it’s us, it’s us,” said Araceli Montoya, principal at Wildflower School, reacting to the news her school is the recipient of the 2019 National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Founder's Award.

“I really think it has to do with our community, the Wildflower Way,” she said.

“Have integrity, always be honest and work your hardest,” said Isaac Aguirre, 8th-grade student.

That hard work is part of what got them NIET’s $50,000 cash prize for exceptional implementation of its principles to build educator excellence and to give all students opportunities for success.

“We have a lot of different clubs that we do after school, so kids have a variety of things they can choose from, we have band, choir, yoga, we have gardening club, as part of that we have leadership, we have newspaper club,” said Montoya.

Students are thrilled and proud to go to a school where skills and experiences that prepare young people for a productive future are key.

“Everybody was excited, like I feel like all this time we earned it, we worked for it,” said Aguirre.

“It’s super exciting because I feel like before Dr. Montoya came, the school really needed it and it’s just an amazing opportunity to get that award,” said Brianda Serrano, 8th-grade student.

So where will the money go?

“Maybe taking half of that money and establishing a scholarship for our Wildflower students that are going on post-secondary schooling… the other half would then go specifically to teacher development,” said Montoya. “Excellence and honor, that is our motto here at Wildflower.”

Over the past 20 years, NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states and universities to ensure all students have access to talented teachers every day. The finalists were selected based on their efforts to improve instruction and accelerate academic growth.